Jonas Wood - Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Friday, May 31, 2024 | Phillips
  • “Yes, these interiors exist or once existed, in life and in photographs, but they persist as paintings, evoking a sutured space of history and memory.”
    — Michael Ned Holte 


    A Calming Interior


    Jonas Wood’s art has a captivating ability to disorient our perception of reality. With a quiet presence, his paintings often delve into detached scenes set in ubiquitous domestic interiors. However, beneath their seeming humbleness and simplicity, Wood’s paintings are charged with layers of experiences and memories.


    Executed in 2011, Wimbledon 1 is a lovable work that presents a refreshing and intriguing vignette, inviting viewers to momentarily escape into Wood’s tranquil domestic corner devoid of human presence. At first glance, it may appear to be a portrait of a resting tennis player. The full-bodied figure, dressed in sports attire with protruding Nike logos on both his sweatshirt and shoes, is holding one of three tennis balls, who takes up the center of the composition. However, upon closer inspection, one realises that this figure is a portrait hung within a larger interior.


    This realisation creates a sense of unease that prompts us to re-evaluate the distorted space in which we are situated. The pronounced linear angles shaping the interior emphasise the absence of human presence, while a second frame discreetly placed on the left margin suggests that we are observing a specific area within a larger setting. Although the composition draws our attention to the imposing figure of the tennis player, the presence of several plant branches with large green leaves in the lower left foreground, partially obscuring the portrait, prevents us from delving further into the interior. Wood’s graphic design language and use of clear-cut geometric shapes contribute to the flattening of the space. The only indication of depth is a rigid shadow cast by the hung painting on its right side, suggesting that the viewer approaches the scene from a rightward angle. Within this single, flat composition, Wood evokes a complex narrative that straddles multiple timelines and invites different interpretation: Are we faced with the portrait of a tennis player? Or is it to be merely understood as a decorated interior?


    Wimbledon 1 is one of two works of very similar iterations in Wood’s oeuvre, both titled ‘Wimbledon’ and numbered 1 and 2 respectively, and certainly a nod to the artist being a huge sports fan. In his own words, he describes how his earlier tennis court series came about: 'I began to paint tennis courts, which came from photographs of turning the lights off and taking pictures of my TV during tennis matches and loving how it looked.'i The present lot can be seen as an extension of his tennis court series, in which he subtly refers to the official Slazenger tennis balls used in the world-famous British tennis championship Wimbledon, replicating them meticulously here as three balls, close to the figure in the portrait hung on the wall. Wood goes on further to explain his love for the subject, 'In the tennis courts, it’s more about composition, abstraction, and repetition. The floating […] tennis balls, or anything else makes me happy.ii His later iteration of Wimbledon 2 sees slight alterations made, with minor changes in the objects and linear perspectives, most evident in the addition of a tennis racket and sweatshirt by well-known sports label Prince. Both works are a testament to Wood’s strength in the flattening of compositions in a most-instantly recognisable aesthetic.


    Portraiture within the Interior

    “There's so much more to art than just what it ends up aesthetically looking like or feeling like…I think that there's a lot of value in seeing things from a different perspective.”
    — Jonas Wood


    Wood’s unique inclusion of a portrait within the painting enables him to transcend the boundaries of representation and delve into the conceptual realm. His distinct graphic style imparts a fictional quality to the scene, suggesting a speculative and surreal undertone. In this way, Wood’s approach shares similarities with renowned figurative artists in art history, including that of Henri Matisse, Alex Katz, and David Hockney, who all have similarly explored the subject of daily life through transformed shapes and vibrant color palettes, evoking a surreal interpretation of reality. By acknowledging these predecessors as his artistic inspirations, Wood situates himself within an art-historical lineage that seeks to capture the deeper inner quality underlying contemporary life.



    Alex Katz, Gray Interior, 1968, Museum of Modern Art, New York.
    Artwork: © 2024 Alex Katz / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


    In Wimbledon 1, the artist skilfully creates a balanced ecosystem of his own experiences and subtle sources of inspiration. Subjects engaged in Wimbledon 1 —portraits, interiors, sports, and plants—are not only recurring themes that dominate Wood’s oeuvre, but also hold deep significance within the artist’s everyday life. These personal connections are intricately layered and translated through Wood’s unique artistic process. Prior to painting, Wood uses a camera to capture everyday scenes from various perspectives as reference images. These photographs then serve as a foundation for him to reconstruct and abstract the imagery into layered composition on canvas. The resulting artworks, exemplified by Wimbledon 1, exist in a constant interplay between depth and surface. They carry profound personal and art-historical significance while establishing an ongoing dialogue between the present and the past, the here and the there. As Michael Ned Holte notes, 'Despite his recurring use of photography, it would be misleading to assign too much credit to the source image, rather than the painter translating it. Yes, these interiors exist or once existed, in life and in photographs, but they persist as paintings, evoking a sutured space of history and memory.iii



    Collector’s Digest


    Born in 1977, the Los Angeles-based artist Jonas Wood creates paintings spanning diverse genres, such as portraits, still-lifes, landscapes, and interior scenes. Grounded in his personal interests and experiences, Wood’s art consistently captures a distinct and contemporary perspective on the world. His warm and quasi-abstract approach, evoking graphic design and popular visual culture, deconstructs images into layered compositions of geometry, patterns, and colors. He navigates the boundary between the strange and the familiar, engaging with emotionally charged material from the everyday realm. Jonas Wood is known as the 'reigning prince of contemporary painting.' In May 2021, his still life piece Two Tables with Floral Pattern set a new auction record at Christie’s, fetching an impressive $6,510,000. The price exceeded the initial estimate for the artwork by more than three times. Jonas Wood has held solo exhibitions at prestigious institutions, such as the Dallas Museum of Art. Works have been collected by Guggenheim and Hammer Museums.



    i Jonas Wood, quoted in 'Artist Jonas Wood Discusses His Latest Exhibition Focused on His Drawing Practice, ‘The Backbone of His Studio Practice’, ARTnews, 7 August 2023

    ii Ibid.

    i Michael Ned Holte, ‘Rooms’, Interiors: Jonas Wood', New York, p. 7.

    • Provenance

      Patrick De Brock Gallery, Knokke
      Private Collection
      Phillips, London, 8 March 2017, lot 30
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Knokke, Patrick De Brock Gallery, Jonas Wood, 5 - 29 August 2011

    • Literature

      Karma Gallery, Anton Kern Gallery, David Kordansky Gallery, Jonas Wood: Portraits, New York, p 51 (illustrated)


Wimbledon 1

signed with the artist's initials, dated and titled 'JBRW 2011 "Wimbledon I"' on the reverse
oil and acrylic on canvas
178 x 188 cm. (70 1/8 x 74 in.)
Executed in 2011.

Full Cataloguing

HK$2,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for HK$2,032,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2027

Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 31 May 2024