Jonas Wood (B. 1973)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more
Jonas Wood (B. 1977)

Wimbledon M

Details
Jonas Wood (B. 1977)
Wimbledon M
signed, titled and dated “Wimbledon M JBRW 2013” (on the reverse)
oil and acrylic on linen
62 1/8 x 50in. (157.8 x 127cm.)

Painted in 2013
Provenance
Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago.
Private Collection, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Special notice

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Lot Essay

‘My paintings of tennis courts were about an interest in abstraction, and how the court becomes a geometric puzzle … My work is under-painted with big flat shapes of color; that is how they start. They are generated from an abundance of flat planes built up on top of each other’ — J. Wood

‘Matisse, Picasso, Braque, Calder, Monet, Vuillard, Bonnard, van Gogh, Stuart Davis, and Hockney have all been very real influences to me’ —J. Wood

Painted in 2013, Wimbledon M is an immaculately-rendered example of Jonas Wood’s tennis court paintings. Vibrant strips of green run up and down the picture plane, offset by the gridded armature of the court and stadium. Flanked by a static crowd of spectators, the vacant playing field is shrouded in suspense, infused with the disquieting sense of calm that descends before the start of a match. Following on from the domestic interiors and urban landscapes that defined Wood’s early practice, his tennis courts represent heightened visions of reality, transforming their quotidian subject matter into sharply rarefied images. Exploiting the inherently geometric structure of the stadium, these works are among Wood’s most piercing enquiries into the structure of pictorial space. As the artist has explained, ‘My paintings of tennis courts were about an interest in abstraction, and how the court becomes a geometric puzzle … My work is under-painted with big flat shapes of color; that is how they start. They are generated from an abundance of flat planes built up on top of each other’ (J. Wood, in conversation with J. Samet, http://hyperallergic.com/236072/beer-with-a-painter-la-edition-jonas-wood/ [accessed 8 January 2016]). Though the lines of the playing field appear to recede into the distance, they ultimately lie flat against the picture plane, deflecting any sense of depth. As figuration slowly warps into abstraction, the familiar slips into the uncanny: what at first appeared to be an innocuous sporting event transforms into a foreboding mise-en-scène – a silent, airless vacuum where nothing is quite as it seems. In Wimbledon M, Wood constructs a mesmerising contrapuntal rhythm – both formal and atmospheric – that mirrors the back-and-forth dynamics of tennis itself.

Wood’s practice is fundamentally rooted in his own experience, filtered through memories and images deeply embedded in his psyche. An ardent sports fan, his early engagement with this subject matter was through portraits of athletes based on the cards he collected as a child. ‘I realized they were perfect for my work’, he recalls. ‘The colors are interesting, and they are designed in a flat, Pop way’ (J. Wood, in conversation with J. Samet, http://hyperallergic.com/236072/beer-with-a-painter-la-edition-jonas-wood/ [accessed 8 January 2016]). With its highly-keyed palette and interlocking geometries, the present work extends the language of these early works, recalling in particular the Pop inflected aesthetic of David Hockney’s suburban landscapes. At the same time, the work bears witness to the increasing complexity of Wood’s art historical positioning. The amplified immediacy of his subject matter, thrust to the frontal plane of the canvas, recalls Cézanne’s deconstruction of pictorial space, whilst the influence of Braque and Picasso is palpable in the work’s perspectival ambiguity. In places, Wood’s flattened chromatic planes bring to mind Matisse’s cut-outs: discrete segments lyrically choreographed across the surface of the canvas. At the same time, the work’s disarming sense of vacancy invokes the brooding psychodramas of Munch and van Gogh, as well as Edward Hopper’s deserted wastelands. The artist’s engagement with the work of his forebears in this way produces a vocabulary that – much like his subject matter – is both instantly recognisable and yet startlingly new. ‘Both steeped in tradition yet completely fresh’, Priscilla Frank writes, ‘Wood captures the impossible sharpness of modernity with the familiar feelings of home’ (P. Frank, ‘Jonas Wood Invites You Into His Colorful, Warped Painted Interiors’, The Huffington Post, 30 September 2013).

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