Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Nostalgia of the Re-imagined

“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

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 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.

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