Jonas Wood - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, November 25, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Los Angeles (acquired directly from the artist)
    Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills
    Private Collection, Sydney
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    Jonas Wood’s works are notable for their deceptively simple planes, rendered through compression of pictorial spaces and a distortion of perspective. The subject matters of the artist’s paintings draw heavily from his immediate surroundings, and even the most quotidian of scenes is rarely far from his canvases. Painted in 2004, Group Portrait is an early still life by Wood — a testament to the artist’s talent and potential even in his initial forays as an artist. The work depicts a series of potted succulents and plants, set against a sprawling plain background, as if set on the ground in a studio. Wood began painting plants in 2002, following his move to Los Angeles in the same year, where he was immediately drawn to the copious amounts of luscious greenery — in particular succulents — he saw populating the city. From then on, plants became a regular motif in Wood’s oeuvre, and remain one of his most sought-after themes.

    The present work may also serve as a glimpse into the artist’s private life — with its intimate title and telling terracotta pots, the piece may be taken as a reference to Wood’s wife, the ceramicist Shio Kusaka. Considering that the couple was newly married in 2002, it is unsurprising that the artist wanted to look forward to a future life of growth together when painting Group Portrait — a fitting metaphor one may extrapolate from the huge amount of blank wall visible above the young potted plants in the work.

    In Group Portrait, present are the fine distillations of painterly masters such as Edward Hopper, Henri Matisse, David Hockney, and Stuart Davis. One can detect a propensity for beautifying the everyday, the allure of still life, a certain dreaminess and whimsicality, but also an undeniable graphic flare. And yet, while all such distinct threads of inspiration can be identified, it is evident in the execution and abstraction of the pots and plants, and the eradication of a background and foreground that Group Portrait retains the artist’s own unique aesthetic: led by Wood’s ability to distort and juxtapose even the most ordinary of figures and spaces.

Property of an Important Australian Collector


Group Portrait

signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated 'JBRW "Group Portrait" 2004' on the reverse
oil and ink on canvas
127 x 177.8 cm. (50 x 70 in.)
Executed in 2004.

HK$1,800,000 - 2,800,000 

Sold for HK$3,700,000

Contact Specialist
Jonathan Crockett
Deputy Chairman, Asia and Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Asia
+852 2318 2023

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Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+852 2318 2025

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 November 2017