Painter Issy Wood mines a complex visual lexicon throughout her work, walking a fine line between pop observations and meticulous studies of form and space that make her canvases instantly compelling and intricate in their gathered meanings and constructions. The artist’s work continues in this vein this month at Michael Werner Gallery in New York, where the American-born, British artist presents a body of new paintings.
Culling images from as diverse sources as estate catalogues, film stills, photographs of the artist’s family possessions, and parts of her own body, Wood’s work is described in the exhibition materials as “a hijacking of devotion.” The chosen imagery is reproduced, layered, juxtaposed, reframed, and memorialized, hinting at the inner thoughts of the artist while leaving the viewer on shaky foundations. Curator and critic Margaret Kross elaborates: “Throughout her paintings … Wood resists the notion that the inner world has ever been, or could ever be, a self-sufficient or autonomous realm. Vulnerable and precarious, contingent on social forces and layers of history that at different moments appear to resurface — or that have never gone away — her imaginary is inseparable from the conditions of the world and of lived, material experiences.”
Wood’s paintings convey both intimacy and detachment, akin to staring at an image through a smartphone screen. Intimacy takes on a fascinating logical path in this light, proposing the artist’s work as a construction and investigation of just what constitutes the intimate; is it still a close knowledge of another or of oneself, or does our own archive of images begin to take on an intimacy? Wood’s works seem to answer that question in the affirmative, charging the images with an intensity that seems to seep out from the surface rather than charge directly at the viewer. Even the show as a site for these images ends up asking similar questions. In a context where that same archive is now re-created and presented in public, a relational experience of the image becomes a new source, and site of quiet, personal experience, that of recognition.
The show closes November 19th.
– D. Creahan
Time Sensitive [Exhibition Site]