Gagosian presents an exhibition of ten new paintings by Jonas Wood, together with two sets of related drawings in Hong Kong this fall. This is Wood’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong.
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The concept for the exhibition stemmed from the artist’s mid-career survey at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2019 when he reencountered Polka Dot Orchid (2015), a painting he had made of a single plant against a black background. The work was hung alongside other paintings of isolated plants in a room wallpapered with repeating tennis balls. Following that exhibition, and over the course of the lockdown period of 2020, Wood continued to consider the idea of making works on black grounds and the opportunity of hanging them together.
The new paintings continue Wood’s exploration into motifs of fruits, flowers, and houseplants. Depicting brilliantly hued orchids and succulents, full bunches of bananas, and a robust monstera plant, he uses plants as a vehicle to experiment with color and geometry, isolating the forms on monochromatic backgrounds to explore color theory, pattern, and line.
Wood planned the installation from his studio in Los Angeles knowing that he would not be able to visit Hong Kong in person due to travel restrictions. The architectural model, which appears in the catalogue, became essential to this process. As part of his conceptual vision, a room of the exhibition will be installed with floral wallpaper designed by the artist as part of his ongoing interest in pattern and in the repurposing and recontextualizing of his own imagery.
Wood develops his hybrid compositions from multiple sources, including photographs appropriated from magazines and representations of his own plant specimens. Some works also incorporate additional natural and artificial elements; Small Yellow Orchid with Baby Snake (2020) features a coiled serpent nestled in its basal leaves, while basketballs—a recurring motif for the artist, an avid sports fan—meld with orchid petals in Bball Orchid with Dots #2 (2021).
Plants have remained a key subject for Wood throughout his career, beginning with his arrival in Los Angeles in 2003. Originally from the East Coast, he was astounded by the variety of flora he found in Southern California, and the tropical plants featured in his paintings reflect not only the houseplants that populate his home and studio, but also the region’s climate and cultural identity. The lush growth that inspired these works is thus linked to his immediate environs, and to the semi-autobiographical impetus of his practice. Like his predecessors Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, and David Hockney, Wood also uses still-life painting as an opportunity to explore abstract forms while extending the modernist impulse to merge art and life.
The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue and a new poster featuring Yellow Flower with Lines 2 (2021).
Jonas Wood, 2021, installation view © Jonas Wood. Photo: Martin Wong. Courtesy Gagosian