Los Angeles based artist Jonas Wood produces paintings and works on paper of contemporary American life that blur the often finite boundaries of figuration and abstraction. The intimate settings of his works, featuring overlapping textures and disorientating spaces, present fresh contemporary life from multiple angles. Among his motifs are domestic interiors, porcelains, landscapes, and sports objects. Critics have praised Wood for his multidimensional work, as he draws inspiration from European modernism, pop art as well as his contemporaries.
Wood grew up in an art-inclined family on the outskirts of Boston. From an early age, he was encouraged to draw and paint while his family nurtured his understanding in art. His grandfather was an avid collector whose art collection included Francis Bacon’s seminal piece Portrait of George Dyer Talking (1966). However, it wasn’t until his senior year in college when Wood decided to pursue a full-time career as an artist. He obtained a Masters of Fine Arts degree in painting from the University of Washington, where he learned about the fundamental roots of painting.
As a result, Wood often pays homage to art history – traces of Matisse, Picasso and Hockney can easily be observed in his work. While the artist engages with a rather mundane subject in our current work Two Orchids, he extracts the extraordinary beauty from the ordinary. By invoking images from familiar settings, Wood emphasises the banal elements of found objects in a half-figurative, half-abstract style. Here, two orchids and three porcelain vases intertwine together and evolve to a geometric puzzle, pressing against a bizarre background of intricate patterns and shapes. The interplay of textures and flat planes building up on top of each other constructs complex visual jigsaw, disorienting viewer’s ocular senses. Every so often, Wood recalls Picasso and Analytic Cubism with his geometric patterns interwoven together by flattened facets piling over each other. At other times, he brings reminiscence of David Hockney, whose vibrant, splendid colors define the dreamy Los Angeles lifestyle. Wood has the ability to seamlessly bridge disparate art historical movements together to create paintings that present a cosmopolitan modern lifestyle from multiple perspectives.
The recurring subject of ceramics in Wood’s paintings belongs to the Japanese artist Shio Kusaka, who also happens to be the artist’s wife. Kusaka, born in Japan and later met Wood while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, is a ceramist whose work draws inspiration from traditional Japanese stoneware and porcelain. Balancing between aesthetics and functionality, Kusaka creates distinctive pots, vases, and bowls that come in a wide range of patterns and colors. Her works were featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, where she exhibited thirty-nine porcelain and stoneware vessels. Wood and Kusaka share a studio space together in Los Angeles and their influence on each other’s artistic output is evident. While Wood often incorporates his wife’s ceramics in his paintings, Kusaka sometimes creates basketball-shaped ceramics due to her husband’s passion for sports. In fact, the couple has recently exhibited together at the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong in 2015 and they plan to collaborate more in the future, with an upcoming exhibition at Museum Voorlinden in the Netherlands opening 30th September 2017.
Wood’s plants and vases still lifes are the most sought after works from his oeuvre. His Black Still Life was recently sold in May at Sotheby’s New York. The painting has fetched a price that widely exceeds its high estimate as well as setting a new auction record for the artist. In 2010, Wood had a solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where the exhibited works displayed his more abstract approach towards depicting pots and plants. His works are also included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; The Broad, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
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