In his boldly coloured paintings, drawings, and prints, Jonas Wood merges references to art history, his memories, and visions of the people, objects, and settings that compose the fabric of his life. Working in acrylic and oil on supports including cardboard and canvas, he presents portraits of his friends and family, interior scenes, and still lifes. Translating the three-dimensional world around him into flat color and line, he confounds expectations of scale and vantage point.
Born in Boston, Wood grew up surrounded by the art collection of his grandfather, featuring the work of artists such as Francis Bacon, Alexander Calder, Jim Dine, Robert Motherwell, Larry Rivers, and Andy Warhol. He received a BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York, in 1999, majoring in psychology and minoring in studio art, then attended the University of Washington, Seattle, where he received an MFA in painting and drawing in 2002. During his student years, he explored making collage-like works based on montaged photographs that he took of himself, his friends, and their surroundings. These early photo-based paintings possess a darker and more volatile energy that is not as immediately evident in the work Wood is known for today.
Shortly after art school, Wood moved to Los Angeles, where he worked for the painter Laura Owens for a few years. Wood currently shares a studio with artist Shio Kusaka, his wife since 2002, and the pair often work in tandem, motifs migrating from Kusaka’s ceramic vessels to Wood’s paintings and back again. Common subjects include plants, portraits, and sports imagery, all of which come together in Wood’s lush interiors and intricate still lifes. Through his partially abstract rendering of these subjects and use of bright colors, he emphasizes patterns and forms while flattening out the space in his compositions. Ceramic vessels and potted plants figure prominently in his works. In some, he covers the outside of a plant’s pot with an intricately realized landscape, which reads as a painting within a painting.