Plants and Animals
David Kordansky Gallery
January 22 – March 5, 2022
In Plants and Animals, on view at David Kordansky Gallery, the viewer may find their retinas’ photoreceptors having a little dance with the lighting shifts and vibrant colors spanning the gallery walls. These staggeringly large works by Jonas Wood (measuring up to 10’ high, all created in 2020-2021), portray various landscapes and domestic scenes, all of which feature either plants, animals or both. The manner in which these paintings and drawings were rendered is a method unique to Wood’s work. Close examination reveals sequences of abstract patches, yet when zoomed out, these mosaics of colors culminate to create highly dimensional scenes. Borrowing from the pointillism technique, Wood incorporates numerous markings in the form of dots, strokes and even zigzags so that flat plains create a vibrational effect.
There is a moodiness that prevails throughout the exhibit, as if the material works are a direct translation of Wood’s inner landscape. We are submerged into an atmospheric potpourri, with flora and fauna kissed by sunlight one day, while bowing under dense overcast skies the next. Although the paintings appear straightforward in concept, there is a depth that seems to glean something personal about Wood’s own daily life.
In Patterned Interior with Mar Vista View, it is plain to see the artist’s fascination with micro and macro patterns in order to create engaging compositions. The viewer is placed in the center of a cheery living room, with the POV bearing a window that overlooks a surrounding neighborhood laden with lush palm fronds. Contrasting these deep green tones are the sparkly notes of yellows, reds, blues, and light greens found in the tessellated couch and curtains. Nearest the viewer is a coffee table, complete with quaint house plant and fruit bowl.
C.M.Z. House on M.V. with Ptolemy provides a different atmosphere altogether. Outdoors, an overcast sky blankets a modern stone house with windows ajar in all directions. Amid a plethora of umbers, ochres and olive greens, a stout black cat trots down the yard’s pathway to greet the viewer. Whoever the inhabitant of this home might be, we get the impression it’s a dwelling that Wood has sojourned many times.
Something as simple as a portrait of pet dogs is made a more curious affair through the artist’s equivocal narrative. Five Dogs displays a gang of canines, of differing breeds, posed before the viewer in diagonal fashion from largest to smallest. With leashes untethered in the middle of some remote, afternoon sidewalk, we wonder: Who do these dogs belong to? What are they doing there? Interestingly, these same dogs appear several times throughout the series, each time at the same location, yet as the fluctuating sky reveals, on different days.
Overall, Wood’s paintings exude a refreshing candor, conveyed through numerous strokes that are both simple and complex, much like life itself.
Cover image: Five Dogs; all images courtesy of Jonas Wood and David Kordansky Gallery; photographed by the author.