Untitled (Black and Gray)

Jonas Wood

During 2009, Jonas Wood began a new series of still life paintings, nine of which would be presented for the first time in an exhibition at Hammer Projects at the Hammer Museum, UCLA, Los Angeles: Jonas Wood, February 5 - May 9, 2010, curated by Corrina Peipon.

Evolving out of his ongoing series of tabletop scenes of arrangements of potted plants and vases displaying cut flora, these new paintings each featured a rectilinear form with branching lines and geometric shapes reaching out and upward into the picture planes. A small number of these works were painted in black against monochrome backgrounds, the forms recalling Wood’s more realistically rendered potted plants as well as abstract sculptures atop plinths. Evocative of the Modernist sculptures of David Smith or Alexander Calder as well as Henri Matisse’s collages, these more abstract works combine Wood’s interest in direct experience with his fascination with the many forms and genres found throughout art history.

He would later state "These plant paintings are exploring shape and repetition in the same way as Alexander Calder—through suspension in space.... The plant paintings are refined, simplified forms of just shape and color with only a touch of representation."

Wood's paintings recall those of a number of modern masters, especially the still-lives and interiors of Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Giorgio Morandi, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, and particularly Pablo Picasso's Nude on a Black Armchair (1932) which is dominated by four large abstracted leaf-forms. Wood also aligns with the aesthetics, conceptual approaches and subjects of Edward Ruscha and David Hockney. All work in a deadpan and flat manner, using familiar subject matter. Ruscha's photographic books A Few Palm Trees (1971) and Colored People (1972) present disembodied and ungrounded palms and cacti. Hockney created a series of Domestic Scenes (1963) that all contained potted plants and flowers, and his Man Taking a Shower (1964) features four large, disconnected leaf shapes in the foreground that seem to be borrowed directly from Matisse's paper cut-outs of the 1950s.

Jonas Wood (b.1977)
Untitled (Black and Gray)
Oil and acrylic on linen
62 x 43 in : 157.5 x 109.2 cm
Signed, titled and dated verso
Anton Kern Gallery, New York
Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles
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