23 October 2015

Jonas Wood at Gagosian Gallery was bold and colourful

One of the very best things about working in London is the access that gives me to the arts, especially theatre in the evening and galleries at lunchtime.

I am currently working just north of Kings Cross Station which means that Gagosian London is just around the corner. It's a few corners actually and that is another good thing as a visit there gives me something of a walk too.

Gagosian Gallery is just my sort of gallery. It has big bright white spaces that are lightly filled with dramatic works of art. In that respect it is very much like the Saatchi Gallery but the Gagosian has the advantage of being smaller and so can be consumed in lunchtime sized chunks. Like the Saatchi, it is also free to enter so the experience can be repeated as often as you like.

On this visit I stumbled upon an exhibition by Jonas Wood who, the short guide tells me, was born in Boston in 1977 and lives and works in Los Angeles. That helped to explain why I had not heard of him before. That and my almost complete lack of knowledge of modern art. All I know is from exhibitions like this and I do not recall ever seeing any contemporary artist's work in two separate exhibitions.

Personally I like that lack of knowledge as it means that I have no preconceptions. If I knew beforehand that "Wood fuses artistic influences as diverse as the domestic interiors of Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, and David Hockney to Chinese and Japanese still-life scenes, ancient pottery and the guileless textiles of Josef Frank" then expectations would have been set and missed.

There was certainly something of David Hockney in Wood's use of simple shapes and extravagant colours. The main difference was in the subject matter as Hockney makes me think of trees and fields and Wood presented busy interiors.

I always like art that has an abstract feel, that is you can appreciate just the use of colour without considering the subject as that gives an immediate hit, and also has detail in the subject that makes you want to look at the whole picture giving a longer and steadier pleasure.

I chose this picture for several reasons. It shows how that pictures were presented with each given plenty of space so as not to interfere with its neighbours. It also shows a series of paintings of pots that were different in style to the interior pictures. And, finally, it shows the complexity of some of his work.

The pot in the middle in particular had lots going on in it, such as the cycles, boats and aeroplane. I took photos of it close up to capture some of this detail but in doing so the context and scale of the rest of the painting and the pot were lost. I thought about posting three pictures of it with different levels of zoom but that would have swamped this post and unfairly highlighted one piece of work.

The pot in the middle was also the one most photographed by other people while I was there.

My final selection from the gallery is another interior. Despite the apparent simplicity and broadly grey feel, there is a lot going on here too from the complex roof to the banana packing cases and all the abandoned objects in between.

I spent an exhilarating half an hour in the gallery going around the rooms three times (context, detail, photos) before heading back to the office to resume battle with some spreadsheets. The brisk walk had exercised muscles and lungs while the exhibition had given my brain some playful exercise too. All lunch breaks should be like that.

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