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Kuba Bakowski
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by Elisabeth Kley

For Martin Wong, the Chinese American artist who died of AIDS in 1999 at the age of 53, heaven and hell came together in the burned-out tenements and enormous piles of rubble that once filled the Lower East Side. Sitting on the floor in his tiny East Village studio, wielding a paintbrush in each hand simultaneously, Wong limned unparalleled ethnic fantasias on canvases of considerable size. But even his most severe images of Alphabet City slums -- featured in "Everything Must Go," a retrospective at P.P.O.W. curated by New York artist Adam Putnam -- had a mythic dimension, filling the skies over gritty red-brick cityscapes with timeless constellations.