March 26, 2011
February 3, 2011, New York—Jonas Woodʼ s third solo show at Anton Kern Gallery takes an assertive step forward into the pictorial and psychological-emotional investigation of interior spaces, gently leaving behind the Calder-like vibrant flower still lifes recently shown at the Hammer Museum. Los Angeles-based Wood has put together a body of paintings and drawings that confronts the viewer with formal rigor and emotional intensity combined with a strong dosage of contemporaneity, thrill and pleasure.
While the gouache and color-pencil drawings, mostly of family members, interiors, and the occasional sports figure, touch on a variety of subjects and genres, they form the foundation for paintings that concentrate on intricately constructed interior spaces. Wood plays with the notion of genre and its supposed traditionalism and makes it the stage for an un-ironic infusion of sentiment and memories that goes beyond any classical restraint. He has formulated a vocabulary of emotions that become manifest in his domestic objects, furnishings, plants, posters, even pets, and also in locales that are charged with biographical significance, including former places of exhibition.
The presentation of the drawings sheds light onto Woodʼ s studio practice. The artist works from life, from photo collages and found images. Preparatory sketches and collages build the basis for the drawingsʼ and paintingsʼ compositions and spatial layouts. Finally, Wood applies the perspectival tilt and distorted viewpoint that so clearly define his works.
But the paintingsʼ tilt, blocky flatness, and compositional autonomy would be mere formal experiments were they not charged with psychological acumen and emotional intensity. This is where the artistʼ s chosen objects and locations, and especially the images within the image, such as photographic snap shots, posters of all kind, postcards, sketches and notes start to speak in a loud and clear voice introducing a dense layer of story telling. After dissecting the visible world, Wood reassembles it into a cosmology of experiences, feelings, memories, and stories.
A painting such as “The Hypnotist” exemplifies Woodʼ s narrative potential most clearly. It not only confronts the viewer with a complexly constructed, disorienting space inhabited by two figures, the faith healer and the artist, but it turns the entire scene into a creepy psycho thriller with the healerʼ s stare violently pushing the artist against the margin of the painting, while the hypnotistʼ s framed posters and memorabilia pop out at the viewer like an out-of-body super-sonic film strip.