Jonas Wood - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session New York Tuesday, November 13, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Anton Kern Gallery, New York
    Private Collection
    Phillips, New York, November 8, 2015, lot 50
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, Anton Kern Gallery, Jonas Wood, November 20 - December 23, 2008

  • Catalogue Essay

    Jonas Wood’s Chico from 2008 is an homage to American professional boxer Diego Corrales, commonly known as “Chico”, in the artist’s distinctive style of contemporary portraiture. A masterful blending of modernist abstraction and realistic figuration, Chico expertly captures a split-second moment in time, just as the boxer draws his arm back in preparation for the final blow. In discussing a common misconception in his sports portraits, Wood explains: “The sports thing is funny. A lot of people think my work on the subject is based on being a super sports fan, because I'm from Boston or because I make these nostalgic pictures, but really the whole sports theme is just a vehicle for practicing portraiture.” (Jonas Wood, quoted in Emily Leisz Carr, “Super Sports Fan: An Interview with Jonas Wood”, Art in America, October 9, 2013, online) For Wood, the subject matter becomes tangential to the formal qualities of portraiture, as he expertly navigates techniques of fragmentation, flattened dimension, and highly-stylized geometric abstraction.

    In Chico, Wood imbues the painting with an emotional depth that belies the flatness of the composition. Wood’s reduction of the background to a near-monochromatic black, apart from a few visual cues of the boxing arena, serves to heighten the intensity of the boxer’s physique, which, in contrast, is rendered with dramatic tonal variation. Rather than painting from his imagination, Wood works almost exclusively from photographs and self-made collages, creating paintings that are re-organizations of pre-existing images. As such, his paintings are twice, or sometimes three-times removed from the real-life figures they depict, resulting in an idiosyncratic blend of realism and abstraction that distorts the subject and adds new layers of meaning.

    In all of his portraits, Wood aims to capture distinguishing features of his subjects. Here, the boxer’s recognizable tattoos and belt that reads “Chico” serve to commemorate the iconic athlete who passed away a year prior to the work’s execution. Rendered in his instantly recognizable painterly style, Wood captures Chico in this moment of strength, re-contextualizing the traditional art form of portraiture in a distinctly contemporary realm.

  • Artist Biography

    Jonas Wood

    American • 1977

    Boston-born, Los Angeles-based artist Jonas Wood is best known for his colorful, semi-abstract interior scenes and still-lifes. Both in style and subject matter, Wood evokes the work of his predecessors Henri Matisse, Alex Katz and David Hockney. The artist is known to produce paintings, prints, collages and even sculptures with the help of his wife, ceramicist Shio Kusaka. 

    One of Wood’s more distinctive motifs is his repeated use of flattened vase-like forms, often featuring self-contained narratives against a more neutral background. The artist received his MFA from the University of Washington in 2002, and his work can be found in the collections of major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney and the Guggenheim.

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signed with the artist's initials, titled and dated "CHICO JBRW 2008" on the reverse
oil on linen
48 x 48 in. (121.9 x 121.9 cm.)
Painted in 2008.

$300,000 - 500,000 

Contact Specialist
Rebekah Bowling
Head of Day Sale, Afternoon Session
New York
+ 1 212 940 1250
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Afternoon Session

New York Auction 14 November 2018