Boston-born and Los Angeles-based artist Jonas Wood weaves the essence of 20th-century modern traditions with his own hard-edged, quasi-abstract cut-out style in order to autobiographically explore aspects of contemporary American life. The artist's work, restricted to two-dimensional media (drawing, painting, collage, watercolour, and mural), crosses multiple genres including portrait, still life, landscape, and architecture. He features in the collections of key American art institutions such as New York's Museum of Modern Art, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art; Los Angeles' Hammer Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.Read More
Wood's process typically begins with a collage of photographs that he simplifies into drawn compositions. Space and depth in the artist's artworks are created purely with flat planes of colour and lines. The resulting disconcerting sense of compressed space harks back to the work of the 20th-century modernists he cites as influences; in particular, there is a strong connection to the work of Henri Matisse, who forsook shading as a means of conveying form in favour of lines and contrasting fields of colour. The artist specifically pays homage to Matisse in works such as Red Pot with Lute Player #2 (2018), reminiscent of Matisse's Interior in Venetian Red (1946) and Red Interior. Still Life on a Blue Table (1947). The disparate and fractured plains of Wood's work meanwhile resonate with Pablo Picasso and the Cubists. His minimal, colourful, and planar portraits and interiors visually reflect the work of his proclaimed major influences: Lucian Freud, David Hockney, and Alex Katz.
In a conceptual sense, Wood follows early Pop art's focus on reinvigorating an interest in the everyday things that we overlook, though his approach is less commercial and more personal than Pop art's. The artist's imagery is comprised of his day-to-day surroundings. In works such as Group Portrait (2004) and MSF Fish Pot #7 (2016) the artist has incorporated the work and interests of his wife, the Japan-born ceramicist Shio Kusaka. Sharing a studio with her in Culver City, California, many of the artist's myriad paintings of plant pots and other ceramic vessels are modelled on Kusaka's work. The artist also creates interior scenes characterised by distorted perspectives and an abundance of domestic objects, particularly pot plants, in works such as Alexis' Room (2014), and Jersey City Apartment (2019).
Sports has been another dominant feature of Wood's work. The artist shows his obsessive passion for basketball in works such as Floating Orange Ball (2014), which also pays homage to Jeff Koons' One Ball Total Equilibrium (Spalding Dr J Silver Series) (1985). The artist avidly watches games and listens to sports commentary, or has it running in the background while he works. The artist also produces architectural exteriors such as Schindler Apts (2013), which portrays the iconic Los Angeles architecture the artist visits with his father when he comes to the city. Sometimes these everyday elements are jarringly recombined into works such as Collaboration Appropriation 4 (2015), which brings together the artist's plants and basketball motifs in a surreal composition set against a neutral background.
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2019
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