For his fifth solo exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, Jonas Wood presents a group of portraits that depict his family, close friends, and the artist himself. Through exuberant color, line, and scale, these paintings express the artist’s interpretation of intimate moments from his life, and memorialize figures who are paramount to him.
This body of work expands upon Wood’s signature style: an uncanny blend of realism and abstraction that distorts the subject and adds a new layer of meaning. The objects and people that Wood surrounds himself with and are represented in his work give a rare insight into the many facets of the artist’s character—much like the layered and constructed paintings themselves. As Cecilia Alemani writes, “Wood’s expanding gallery of athletes, portraits and still lives are animated by familiar yet universal elements, allowing his drawings and paintings to radiate at the intersection between personal mythology and collective identity.”
In Robin and I (Double Portrait), which depicts the artist and his late mother, the gaze of the subjects highlight their individual personalities while revealing deep familial affection. One of the monumental works, Diet 7Up Frimkess Pot, references a ceramic pot by husband-and-wife collaborators Michael and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess. Wood’s depiction of the playfully adorned vessel draws a parallel between the Frimkess’ united working relationship, and Wood’s artistic collaborations with his wife, the artist Shio Kusaka.
Wood’s practice encompasses multiple genres, most of which reference the family, piecing together and layering a collage of memories, places, people, heroes, and art objects. The technique Wood has perfected over the years begins with collecting source material, much of which consists of personal photographs and drawings. Starting with abstract blocks of colors on canvas, Wood continues to layer forms, and patterns of intricate detail, flattening both the figure and the spatial environment. The collapsing of planes creates an immediacy of the image.
Portraits, a book designed by Karma and the artist, will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.
Anton Kern Gallery (press release)