The present work’s graphic style aligns itself in the surrealist manner of quotidian objects, in which everything is not as it seems. Against a backdrop of jet black, two basketballs blossom atop stems of rich foliage. Around the quasi-orchid structures, acid house daises complete smiling faces and speckled petals flower and envelop. Commercial titans in the world of basketball, Spalding and Wilson are emblazoned on the sporting paraphernalia, a gesture that is Warholian in vigour and Koons in aesthetic. To conjure such an image, the artist creates collages from found material in his studio. Speaking of his methods, Wood comments, “I work from photos. I collect photos, ones I’ve taken or I’ve appropriated or that other people have sent to me. And then I either make a collage of those things or work directly from photos” (Jonas Wood cited in: Pac Pobric, ‘Jonas Wood: I was so afraid for way too long’, Artnet News, 28 March 2019, online.)
Working in traditional genres of still life, landscape, and portraiture Wood joins a lineage that stretches from modern masters such as Van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse to contemporary giants David Hockney and Alex Katz. Reminiscing about his early influences Wood remarks, “Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Calder, Monet, Vuillard, Bonnard, van Gogh, Stuart Davis, and Hockney have all been very real influences to me. When I was a young child, my family would speak about these artists as examples of greatness in painting. I guess even then I took them seriously because these are the artists I ended up fashioning my studio practice after” (Jonas Wood cited in: Emma Louise Tovey, ‘Jonas Wood’, Dossier Journal, 3 April 2012, online). Furthermore, Wood was heavily influenced by his grandfather, whose art collection featured works by Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Jim Dine, Robert Motherwell, Larry Rivers and Andy Warhol.
Indeed, Collaboration Appropriation 4 recalls the manipulated space of Cubism and the flatness of Matisse however, one of the more direct references within Wood’s career is undoubtedly Hockney. Like his British predecessor’s iconic works, Wood draws influence from the California landscape (both interior and exterior) and employs the same compelling juxtapositions that give both his and Hockney’s work their beguiling yet uneasy sense of space. Sara Roffino notes the way in which Wood and Hockney share “an interest in combining multiple perspectives, using patterns to create space, and examining how colour ‘can be irrational and rational at the same time’” (Sara Roffino, ‘Hockney’s Children: 5 Artists on Why They’re so Indebted to the Charming British Painter,’ Artnet News, 1 December 2017, online). Building upon Hockney’s abstraction, Wood nevertheless sets himself apart by embracing crisp edges and an eschewal of traditional models of illusionistic space.
Wood has risen from obscurity to the top of the contemporary art pyramid through his mastery of abstract space, evocative use of colour, and his connection to the lineage of California painters and European art history alike. That his first museum survey was held last year at the Dallas Museum of Art is a testament to the calibre of his artistic production and inimitable creative spirit.
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