Jonas Wood - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 24, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles
    Private Collection (acquired from the above)
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    As an outstanding proponent of his iconic and highly coveted tennis court paintings, Jonas Wood’s masterwork Australian Open Two substantiates the artist’s ultimate thesis on the psychological interplay between abstraction and representation. As a visionary who has redefined beauty in prosaic images, Wood yields a unique space that is both a highly personal and universally familiar. Through an expanse of enigmatically stacked tectonic planes that recede from marine blues to a wistful darkness, the artist first lays the abstract architecture of his engulfing canvas. Horizontal bands of colour then slowly unfold to reveal volume within their flatness, as delicate white lines demarcate the boundaries of a tennis court. Finally, representational space is anchored by the embellishments of corporate logos and the economic evocation of a taught tennis net constructed through methodical cross hatching. The images of these courts are based on Wood photographing the television screen, creating bands of black colours at the top and bottom of some works. Presented at an immersive scale that is rare to the market, Wood re-imagines a famed site of international sport that is known globally from infinite angles, cropping it haphazardly and emptying it of any action to present an abstracted splice of shared personal experience.

    Comprising his most recognisable series, Wood has been continuously drawn to the four international Grand Slam tennis tournaments that punctuate the global sporting calendar: the French Open, Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. Here, Wood announces his location through a wash of oceanic blues: the distinguishing colour of the Australian Open courts since the surfaces of Melbourne Park were renovated in 2007. Yet, rather than focusing on the game itself, Wood’s vacant court functions as uncanny contemporary landscape emptied of human presence in the vein of David Hockney’s 1967 masterpiece, A Bigger Splash. The off-centre viewpoint emphasises the orthogonals of the stadium environment, supported by the aesthetic weight of saturated block colours. As the artist surmises: ‘My forms are not rendered spatially. My paintings of tennis courts were about an interest in abstraction, and how the court becomes a geometric puzzle’ (Jonas Wood in conversation with Jennifer Samet in: ‘Beer with a Painter, LA Edition: Jonas Wood’, Hyperallergic, 12 September 2015, online.)

    Rigorously structured to play with our perception of depth, Wood shows a profound indebtedness to Paul Cézanne’s deconstruction of pictorial space and the fracturing of forms that manifested in the Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. He modifies the visual strategies of modern painting to reflect a post-modern reality; one that is infiltrated by flatness of the screen and a saturated visual culture fed by digital technologies. With further references to the consumer brand worship of Andy Warhol and the graphic interest in corporate logos expounded by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Wood condenses the abstract, the representational, the photographic and televised. In the absence of players, referees or audience, this surreal tennis court becomes a geometric game, revelling in asymmetry, where form and colour provide the dynamic back and forth energy otherwise expressed in the heat of a match.

    Having initially studied psychology before focusing on fine art, Wood’s unique interweaving of aesthetics and memory have earned his quotidian scenes a revered place in the history of contemporary painting. The artist gained notoriety in his early career through personal images of friends, family and interiors all based on first hand perception and memories. Wood has remarked: 'Of all the possible things I could paint, the thing that interests me is something that I can get close enough to in order to paint it honestly.’ (Jonas Wood in conversation with Ana Vejzovic Sharp in: Dan Nadel, Ed., Jonas Wood: Interiors, Los Angeles 2012, p. 56.) As a crucial innovation in his practice, Wood’s sports images specifically relate to visions and memories mediated through other media such as photography or television. Wood’s first sport paintings used portraits of athletes that he sourced from the cards he collected as a child. Whilst familiar to some and surreal to others, the flattening effect of the blue court in Australian Open Two evokes space experienced as an image mediated through television. But despite presenting a scene rooted in a widely accessible record of reality, Wood’s askew framing of the composition remains both highly personal and coolly abstract.


Australian Open Two

signed with the artist's initials, titled, and dated 'JBRW 2012 "AUSTRALIAN OPEN TWO"' on the reverse
oil and acrylic on linen
223.5 x 152.4 cm. (87 7/8 x 60 in.)
Executed in 2012.

HK$4,500,000 - 5,500,000 

Sold for HK$5,500,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2018