This month at David Kordansky Gallery, a new body of work by Jonas Wood, Plants and Animals, unites a set of recent paintings and works on paper by the artist that spans the full gallery space. Exploring recurring images in his work, and focusing in here on the aforementioned subjects, Wood turns to a variety of formats and mediums to render images not only of flora and fauna, but also of detailed worlds of related forms, spaces, and moods.
Throughout, the show remains familiar in tone and material. The subtleties of scale, color, and visual texture that are found everywhere throughout this show, familiar modes the Wood frequently returns to, yet simultaneously showcases evolving ideas and an ever-increasing commitment to his vision, including his passion for and preternatural understanding of the material elements of painting, drawing, and printmaking themselves. The works in Plants and Animals were made over the last three years, and often are the results of evolving studies that go back even further than that. Wood has long turned to subjects that attract him for their personal relevance and formal idiosyncrasy. To make paintings, he works from photographs, drawings, and collages; in technical terms, his sources often combine several of these approaches as well as varying degrees of mediation, with Wood developing his ideas according to principles that are as informed by abstract notions of pattern and shape as they are by representational fidelity.
Imagery from one work often appears in others, highlighting the ways in which Wood’s ideas go through these several phases of development. In some paintings, he establishes anachronous juxtapositions, inserting family members into images he finds on the internet or compiling entirely fictional scenes out of otherwise factual elements drawn from diverse sources. What unifies these diverse elements are Wood’s increasingly nuanced approaches to color and paint application. While many of the paintings are notable for their saturated hues and bold forms, they all contain innumerable instances in which less immediately perceptible decisions play key roles in the paintings’ overall effect. Woven throughout some pictures, for instance, are carefully modulated grey and neutral tones that generate palpable volume.
Each of these characteristics reveals Wood’s project to be one in which craft and process go hand-in-hand with psychological connection and overall pictorial vision. The works on paper that constitute an essential part of Plants and Animals shed further light on the elaboration of these various modes of thought, intuition, and production. They also demonstrate the artist’s breadth and curiosity: he employs various types of printmaking to create a range of effects and moods, and experiments with varying approaches to layering and foreground/background distinctions. The exhibition provides viewers with many opportunities to follow Wood as he examines an idea from numerous perspectives, rendering it in different mediums and altering its feel and scope as he responds to their possibilities and demands.
What arises from all of these works, whether on canvas or paper, are images of life as remembered, imagined, invented, and observed. But as plants and animals often do for those who appreciate them, their subjects also speak to a deeply felt curiosity about—and affection for—the natural world.
The show closes March 5th.
– D. Creahan
Jonas Wood at David Kordansky [Exhibition Site]