Jonas Wood has an incredible ability to transform his life onto a canvas. The Los Angeles-based painter brings his surroundings — whether that be sports he is watching on TV, old family photographs, or interiors — into beautiful, vibrantly colored paintings.
Wood’s paintings show a serious interest in color and form (or the lack thereof). Many of Wood’s paintings are very flat – though this lack of volume seems to come not from a disinterest with form but rather from a fascination with it. Though we do see depth and cast shadows in his paintings – the lack of shading on objects causes the flatness seen in many of his paintings.
In lieu of shading, instead we see Wood’s interest in color. As he said in a 2010 interview with the Hammer Museum — at which he has paintings on view — “Color is something that I am really into. I guess everyone is into color in some way. Color is a balancing act.” He continued saying, “When color challenges you, and tells you a plant is blue not green, then maybe color can ask you new questions about what you are seeing.”
The use of color as a means of trickery is a compelling idea, and this is seen in full effect in a painting of Wood’s titled, “Landscape Pots.” In “Landscape Pots” we see a close up painting of a potted plant that seems to be rested against the cold cement floor and white wall of an art studio. Contrasting against the minimalist white and gray of the background is a warm terracotta pot housing a large leafy plant. The large and overgrown plant has grown over the top of the pot, spilling outwards onto the ground.
This effect Wood speaks of — the idea that through color your eyes can play tricks on you — is something that can be felt and understood the longer you look at “Landscape Pots.” The longer you look at the painting, you begin to realize that the stem of the plant is actually made of pink and purple, and that the leaves are made of colors like blue, turquoise, pink, and black. If you look at the painting long enough, the plant begins to appear as being entirely artificial.
This is not the first instance in which ceramics are seen in a Jonas Wood painting. Wood is married to the very talented ceramicist Shio Kusaka. Wood and Kusaka are constantly collaborating, and this collaborative relationship has manifested some truly unique and beautiful artworks. Many of Wood’s paintings depict Kusaka’s vases, and many of Kusaka’s vases (including this one of a basketball) depict imagery from Wood’s paintings. Sports imagery is another common subject of Wood’s artwork. Many of Wood’s paintings — and even one wallpaper — depict basketballs that appear to float in space. The basketballs are usually shown in a pattern against a white background, being painted in his trademark, flat style.
Wood explained the ideas that influenced this subject matter in an interview with Hyper Allergic saying that, “the floating basketball, which became an image in my work, evolved out of looking at photographs that show the ball floating in the air. I started cutting the balls out and painting the floating balls, without any sports figures. You only need a couple colors and a couple shapes to make something work.” Again we see Wood’s desire to play tricks on the viewer through his treatment of color and form.
Wood currently has paintings on view at museums and galleries including the Whitney, Gagosian, and David Kordansky Gallery – and we can’t see what tricks his paintings will play on us down the road.