Following his exhibit at the David Kordansky Gallery in Los Angeles and the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong this winter, Los Angeles-based artist Jonas Wood ’99 premiered a new series of paintings at Gagosian Gallery in London, his first exhibition there.
In its press release about the solo show, Gagosian compares Wood’s “ongoing investigation of his intimate environment” to the work of Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and David Hockney, noting other influences from Chinese and Japanese still-life scenes, ancient pottery and the textiles of Josef Frank.
“Sampling subjects from his own photographs, he reiterates them through an intensive process of drawing,” the press release continues. “Filling the compressed spaces of his paintings with figures, plants, and household objects, Wood reimagines the world as a variegated collage of overlapping patterns, flatly rendered. Painted outlines of pots and vases — often based on the work of his wife Shio Kusaka and fueled by their shared interest in the history of ceramics — contain landscape and interior imagery, while verdant interiors possess an affectless cut-out appearance.”
The exhibit, which opened Oct. 13, will run through Dec. 19.
In 2013, the Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago showcased an exhibit of Wood’s work. A review of the exhibit called Wood’s paintings, “intimate, exquisite and 100% covetable.” In 2014, Wood brought his art to a billboard installation in New York City as part of the New York High Line, a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side.
Wood graduated from Hobart with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in studio art, having participated in the abroad program in Bath, England. He earned a M.F.A. in painting and drawing from the University of Washington. His work has been the subject of one-person exhibitions at Patrick De Brock Gallery, Knokke, Belgium; La Montagne Gallery, Boston; Hammer Projects, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; MinMin Gallery, Tokyo; Anton Kern Gallery, N.Y.; and Black Dragon Society, Los Angeles.
The Ex Expat
The Nostalgia of the Re-imagined
Henry Bateman October 15, 2015
“People think painting is about an image that can be repeated and sold,
as opposed to a long-term practice.
You need a lot of tools and ideas to draw from,
when you end up in a studio alone.”
Jonas Wood’s grandfather was an early and important influence for the California based painter.
As he told ArtNews’ Bill Powers “My grandfather built this crazy house in 1955 in upstate New York and filled it with his art collection. He was an interesting guy: a self-made man, a doctor. He taught himself how to paint at age 60. When I was younger, I thought maybe I’d follow in his footsteps.”
It’s a subject Wood elaborated upon with Hyperallergic’s Jennifer Samet saying “The painting I remember especially is Francis Bacon’s “George Dyer Talking” (1966). When I think about it, I remember exactly where it was hanging in his house. In graduate school, which is where I really began studying art, I realized how amazing it was that I grew up with a seminal piece by one of the most important figurative painters. My grandfather bought it the year it was made. He sold it in 1980, and basically gave the money to his grandchildren, encouraging us to get as much education as we wanted, which obviously was a huge blessing.”
And to a certain extent Wood did follow in the older man’s footsteps studying psychology at Boston’s [sic] Hobart and William Smith Colleges prior to learning how to paint.
“I finished my psychology requirements by junior year, and spent the first semester of my senior year abroad for a research program. I decided that when I returned, I wanted to spend the rest of my time just learning how to paint,” he has explained.
Wood obtained his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Washington in 2002 and the following year with his wife, the potter Shio Kusaka, Wood moved to Los Angeles. A solo exhibition featuring portraits of his grandfather and the Boston Celtic’s basketball star Robert Parish saw his career take off.
The inclusion of still life’s based on his wife’s pottery and reimagined interior scenes from his childhood have expanded his oeuvre and seen him become a member of the stable of the world wide contemporary art gallery chain owned and directed by Larry Gagosian.
About his interior scenes Wood has said “I have had a deep emotional connection to most of the places I select to paint. That is going to come across. There is a personal nostalgia I can feed off. Everyone wants to go back to his or her youth in some way, be naïve, and be a kid again. I know there are powerful emotions, and I use that as fuel.”
The New York Time’s art critic Roberta Smith said of Wood’s 2011 exhibition at the Anton Kerr Gallery “Each painting here presents a highly personal but impersonally observed reality that has been astutely cobbled together but is almost too much to take in. It is presented whole, but with all the seams showing for easy disassembly. That’s enough to make one of painting’s most frequent subjects – the artist’s life – seem new again.”
Wood’s inaugural London exhibition is currently on show at Mayfair’s Gagosian Gallery until the 19th of December.