Jonas Wood - New Now London Thursday, December 9, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'You could call [my work] a visual diary or even a personal history. I’m not going to paint something that doesn’t have anything to do with me. 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

    Bold, brightly coloured, and capturing the graphic quality that the artist has become so well-known for, Yellow Crate is highly representative of Los Angeles-based artist Jonas Wood’s idiosyncratic approach to the tradition of still-life painting. Isolated against a sparse background and featuring a single houseplant in a simple terracotta pot whose slender, hanging stems introduce an element of natural geometry to the composition, Yellow Crate foregrounds questions of pattern, form, and colour in its presentation of a deceptively simple scene of everyday life. 

    Intimately tied to the domestic and the personal, Yellow Crate highlights Wood’s tendency to draw on his own life and immediate surroundings for his subject matter. Moving between art-historical and highly personal references, Wood’s compositions frequently feature pots designed by his wife, the ceramic artist Shio Kusaka, arranged amongst the other material traces of interiors, objects, friends, and heroes that make up the rich fabric of his life. 

    Growing up surrounded by his grandfather’s impressive art collection, Wood absorbed these influences at a young age, the flattened forms, chromatic relationships, and attention to rhythmic pattern here visually recalling the spatial arrangements of Henri Matisse and Vincent Van Gogh alongside the sensually saturated and distinctly Californian palette of David Hockney. In his unique blend of realism and abstraction Wood renders the familiar strange, combining these carefully studied art-historical references with the deeply personal, reinterpreting both in his uniquely contemporary and instantly recognisable visual vocabulary. 


    Vincent van Gogh, Irises, 1890, Image: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Adele R. Levy, 1958

    Yellow Crate is also characteristic of Wood’s working practice more broadly. Having collected his source material – usually photographs or drawings of his immediate environment – Wood then begins to layer his forms, moving from abstract blocks of colour and acrylic underlayers to more patterned elements overpainted in oil, flattening both the figure and the spatial environment in the process. Through what art critic Roberta Smith identified as a ‘dour yet lavish palette, tactile but implacably workman like surfaces and subtly perturbed sense of space’ Wood’s compositions synthesise the abstract, the representational and the photographic, deftly blending the traditional and the contemporary in his approach to portraiture and still-life.i 

    As well as recent solo shows at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2019 and Lever House, New York in 2014, Wood will be the subject of a major exhibition with David Kordansky Gallery across their three spaces in the new year. His work is also included in the permanent collections of important institutions including the Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington D.C.), The Museum of Modern Art (New York), and The Broad (Los Angeles). 


    i Roberta Smith, ‘Art in Review: Jonas Wood’, New York Times, 18 March 2011, online

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2008



Yellow Crate

signed with the artist's initials and dated 'JBRW 2006' on the overlap
oil on canvas
82.6 x 92.7 cm (32 1/2 x 36 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2006.

Full Cataloguing

£150,000 - 200,000 

Sold for £327,600

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 9 December 2021