Jonas Wood’s large architecture- and home decor-referencing works conflate digital and real
Samuel Brown reviews Jonas Wood's exhibition at Gagosian Gallery on West 24th street in New York. The exhibition of large oil and acrylic paintings feel more like digital works; Sam says they look as if they were made on Microsoft Paint. Check them out for yourself before July 19th, 2019!

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Jonas Wood, Architect, 2019. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 110 x 78 in.
Jonas Wood, Architect, 2019. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 110 x 78 in.

I made my way to the Gagosian Gallery on West 24th street in New York last week to check out a collection of paintings and works on paper by Los Angeles based painter Jonas Wood. Whether it’s a happy accident, or perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy, Jonas Wood sure knows how to paint a plank of, yes, wood. Each slab of lumber is treated like it’s own composition—an abstract array of lines and splotches that warp together to form sturdy beams and pillars. In his painting, “Young Architect,” a man stands amidst a chaotic whirlpool of timber that surrounds him. Different gradients of wood, each rendered with different variations of line weight and light, forms a kind of surrealist treehouse that has been lifted right out of a dream. The man depicted in the painting stands nonchalant as a sort of focal point in the piece, ready to introduce you to his body of work.

Jonas Wood, Jersey City Apartment, 2019. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 104 x 142 in.
Jonas Wood, Jersey City Apartment, 2019. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 104 x 142 in.

Whereas “Young Architect” seeks to reveal a stripped down version of an architectural structure, the painting adjacent to it, “Jersey City Apartment,” shows a habitat furnished with neo modern accoutrements. However, just like the previous painting, there is an emphasis on pattern. The pointelistic floor encircles the coffee table and couches with a maximalist sense of care. Each segment of the room is dense with bold paint strokes that gives the painting an intense vibrancy. Wood’s off-kilter, graphic style feels like it was rendered on a computer in Microsoft Paint. It’s as if each stroke was crafted by dragging a cursor across a screen. There even seems to be a sort of nod to this digital influence in the center of “Jersey City Apartment” where seven emojis show off different facial expressions. Digital life is ubiquitous with contemporary life in this stylish living space.

Jonas Wood, Red Pot with Lute Player #2, 2018. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 86 x 90 in.
Jonas Wood, Red Pot with Lute Player #2, 2018. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 86 x 90 in.

Wood’s painting technique harkens back to painters like Mattise—an influence whom Wood wears on his sleeve in paintings like “Red Pot with Lute Player #2.” As in a Mattise painting, there is an emphasis on outline and mark making in order to construct a loose view of reality. This particular composition is part of a series that lines the walls of the Gagosian Gallery’s largest section. In this space, there are several large-scale paintings of vases—each one enclosed by a diffident gray background that frames a vibrant cluster of patterns and figures. Some of the vases contain depictions of various cartoon characters like Snoopy or Mickey Mouse while others show pictures of cartoonish fish. A lighthearted dichotomy exists between the elegant vases and the whimsical characters that decorate them—a contrast between sophisticated design and playful symbolism that is apparent in nearly all of Wood’s paintings, exacerbated by each piece’s quirky handling of paint.

Jonas Wood, M. F. S. Fish pot #7, 2016. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in.
Jonas Wood, M. F. S. Fish pot #7, 2016. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 in.

Wood’s body of work exudes a certain monumentality. Each vase and each scene towers over the viewer, yet none of these paintings feel overbearing. Instead, they welcome us into the space and invite the viewer to look closely at the wiggly lines as if we were exploring one of the interiors of Wood’s imagined dwellings. The show, as a whole, is a reexamination of home and design—not aiming to document the world as it actually is, but rather the way in which it is felt.

Jonas Wood, Gagosian Gallery, W. 24th St., until July 19, 2019.

Tags

gagosian, gagosian gallery, Jonas Wood

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