JONAS WOOD (B. 1977)
JONAS WOOD (B. 1977)
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JONAS WOOD (B. 1977)

Green Garden Landscape Pot

JONAS WOOD (B. 1977)
Green Garden Landscape Pot
signed with the artist’s initials and dated ‘JBRW 2016’ (lower edge); signed again with the artist’s initials, titled and dated again ‘JBRW 2016 GREEN GARDEN LANDSCAPE POT’ (on the reverse)
oil and acrylic on canvas
118 x 93 in. (299.7 x 236.2 cm.)
Painted in 2016.
David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Wassenaar, Museum Voorlinden, Shio Kusaka & Jonas Wood, September 2017-January 2018, pp. 95, 100 and 107 (illustrated and installation view illustrated).


Ana Maria Celis
Ana Maria Celis Head of Department


Blurring the line between the intimate and the monumental, Jonas Wood’s dynamic oeuvre is bristling with vivid colors, sharp lines, and a careful reinvestigation of art history and the everyday. Exploring the conjunction between the quotidian and the historical, the painter has quickly become one of the most sought after artists of recent years. From the much-lauded Landscape Pots series, Green Garden Landscape Pot is a visually compelling canvas that marries representation with abstraction and challenges the viewer’s perception of space. Its seemingly simple composition opens wide upon extended looking to reveal a dexterity and finesse telling of the artist’s exhaustive study of art history and its relationship to domestic life.

Roberta Smith, speaking about Wood’s ability to coax multiple dimensions from the flat picture plane, noted, “More than ever his works negotiate an uneasy truce among the abstract, the representational, the photographic and the just plain weird. They achieve this with a dour yet lavish palette, tactile but implacably workmanlike surfaces and a subtly perturbed sense of space in which seemingly flattened planes and shapes undergo shifts in tone and angle that continually declare their constructed, considered, carefully wrought artifice" (R. Smith, "Art in Review: Jonas Wood," The New York Times, March 18, 2011). Combining Wood’s spare still life images, or Clippings, with his more inclusive scenes of home and garden, works like Green Garden Landscape Pot set the artist up for a new stage in his visual investigations.

Rendered on a flat gray background, a large potted plant stretches nearly the entire height of the canvas. On the vessel’s surface, Wood sets out a detailed garden scene with iris, daffodils, and black-eyed susans popping up cheerfully amidst thick green foliage. A white trellis and a small table are set toward the back near two white columns that suggest a larger structure nearby. The pot contains this scene within strict walls, and itself acts as both a representative object and a window into another world. The splay of green tendrils and two dainty black and purple flowers extend from the illusion of three dimensions, but the reality is that the edges of the vessel are as flat and sharp as the even background upon which it rests. It is almost as if Wood cut out the garden scene from a larger image and fashioned it into a collaged urn for the jaunty vegetation. This self-appropriation is intentional, and the artist notes: “Painting the landscape pots wasn’t necessarily about painting well; it wasn’t about creating an image that was relatable to the viewer, or about painting in a more realistic way. I wanted to paint the landscape pots so they were intentionally unrealistic. They were all filtered into an even looser organization of information that would represent this landscape pot as opposed to trying to paint the perfect landscape on a pot. Because I was recycling the imagery from previous works, it was like painting a painting in a painting” (J. Wood, in an interview with B. Sharp, Jonas Wood: Paintings and Drawings, exh. cat., Los Angeles, David Kordansky Gallery, 2015, p. 8). In the present example and the rest of the series, Wood establishes conflicting planes of illusionistic reality that push and pull at each other. Like the contradiction inherent in the flatness of a photographic media versus its internal visual depth, each Landscape Pot can be looked at and looked into. Both a flat surface and an entrance for the eyes to explore, the vessel plays with traditional notions of the picture plane and asks us to think about multiple vantages at once.

There is often a sense of calm that permeates Wood’s canvases, even when they become massive in scale and tend toward abstraction. The artist is known for his intimate tableaus and still lifes that often incorporate houseplants, ceramics made by his wife the renowned ceramicist Shio Kusaka, and interior scenes dappled with California light streaming through windows. “Of all the possible things I could paint,” Wood admitted, “the thing that interests me is something that I can get close enough to in order to paint it honestly. The painters whose work means the most to me – that’s what they were painting. It was their loved ones or the stuff that was in their house. It was always this hyperpersonal thing to me.” (J. Wood, quoted in D. Nadel, Jonas Wood: Interiors, Los Angeles, 2012, p. 56). Creating this personal iconography over the years, Wood paints subjects as ordinary as planters and basketballs, but actively uses this imagery to explore the bounds of his artform rather than sticking to the traditional notions of still life or interior scenes. Green Garden Landscape Pot is a prime example of this inquiry as he transforms the everyday into a catalyst for his ever-evolving practice.

Born in Massachusetts, Wood received his MFA from the University of Washington in 2002 before moving to Los Angeles where his career took off shortly thereafter. He often references the studio paintings of artists like Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, their walls filled with various collected objects. Similarly, Wood takes the stillness of his home and everyday life as his subject and enlarges decorative elements into significant subjects in their own rite. “Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Calder, Monet, Vuillard, Bonnard, van Gogh, Stuart Davis, and Hockney have all been very real influences to me,” he noted in an interview. “When I was a young child, my family would speak about these artists as examples of greatness in painting. I guess even then I took them seriously because these are the artists I ended up fashioning my studio practice after.” (J. Wood, quoted in E. Tovey, “Jonas Wood,” Dossier Journal, April 3, 2012). Lovingly depicting the domestic spaces he inhabits and their denizens, Wood makes references to those that came before without direct appropriation. Using a flattened perspective that often recalls source photographs and collage sketches, Wood flirts with abstraction while still remaining grounded in the traditions of still life and historical tableaus. By immersing himself in the history of art, he continues the visual conversations set up by his forebearers and pushes them into the twenty-first century.

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