Jonas Wood’s rapid rise in the past few years to representation at Gagosian seemed to happen almost overnight. But for followers of the Los Angeles-based painter, his ascension comes as no surprise. Wood’s impressive approach both painting and drawing showcases a masterful sense of patterns, perspectives and color, using figurative vantage points to arrive at beguiling images and innovative constructions of the picture plane. On view this month at Gagosian, a range of works from the artist underscores this ability, and delves ever deeper into his creative practice.
In his boldly colored graphic works, Wood combines art historical references with images of the objects, interiors, and people that comprise the fabric of his daily life, translating the three-dimensional world around him into pure color and line. He delves regularly into complex patterned arrangements and compositions that incorporate the surreal and the subtle into the fabric of the everyday, or even work backwards from that angle to arrive at even more intriguing formats. This is particularly evident in his depictions of pots and ceramic vessels, which, devoid of depth and shading, sit in stark contrast to gray tonal backgrounds. Turned into planar spaces for imagery, each pot becomes a painting within a painting, using its surface as a collision course for various cultural iconographies and elements.
This exhibition introduces the largest group to date, Wood’s translations of a selection of Matisse paintings that include Moroccan Landscape (1912), with its muted purples and blues, and several iconic works featuring bright red backgrounds, such as The Lute (1943), Interior with Black Fern (1948), Red Interior, Still Life on a Blue Table (1947), and Interior in Venetian Red (1946)—the latter two of which Wood has fused together within the contours of a single pot.
Another room is dedicated to a series of new paintings of architectural interiors and exteriors, with Wood building space from a process of layering and collaging, using photography, projection, drawing, and then painting. Sources are translated and mixed into generations, which then become the basis for the large-scale paintings. The “seams” are dissolved in the final work, even if the impression of an assemblage remains palpable. Images of Wood’s family members and domestic surroundings recur in his paintings, revealing the importance of familial dynamics in shaping time, space, and identity. For example, Young Architect (2019) is based on a photograph from the mid-sixties in which Wood’s father stands on a construction site where timber beams cross over each other, their grain echoing the forms made by the living trees visible behind. In Inglewood Listing (2019), Wood has painted the quiet scene of a room, based on a photograph from the original real estate listing of his home from the early 2010s, containing similarly grained timber beams and green foliage.
The sum total of the show is a deep engagement with Wood’s craft, and his boundless energy in exploring both his own work, and its intricate relations to broader art history. Much in the same way that his interiors are constructed, Wood makes collages out of time and space itself, allowing the subtle junctures and ruptures to blossom into a new sense of the world.
— C. Rhinehart
Jonas Wood at Gagosian [Exhibition Site]