Jonas Wood’s painting style possesses such a frank matter-of-factness that an initial impression can be, like the work first seems, over-simple. Coupled with a subject matter that includes the juvenilia of sports trading cards, the trap becomes even more difficult to escape. But upon closer inspection, a terrific artistic calculation is uncovered that exposes the painter’s almost morbid fixation on his medium. It is as if the objects in the paintings have been turned into memorials for Wood’s artistic forbearers, Matisse and the early Cubists in particular.
In “Untitled (Alexis’s room),” Wood recreates his sister’s childhood room from a photograph, and since photography pushed Modern painting into new territory, so too is it an important tool for Wood. The Cure poster on the wall is pressed into just-distinguishable blobs of color, pushing the source material, an image thrice removed—a painting of a picture of a poster—out of reality. Photographs tacked to the wall are reduced to their most basic colorful elements. The patterned rug and bedspread in Alexis’s room provide decorative layers akin to Matisse’s wallpaper and tablecloths. While the colors and shapes are playful and even childlike, the mood of the work is barren and sad—it is thick with nostalgia for a past that will never return. Perhaps that is a natural state for a painting whose roots—filtered through David Hockney—are more nineteenth-century than twenty-first. The only clue that the room is not the locked-up shrine to a dead child is the mussed bed and the cats statically stretched on the floor. The other paintings and drawings in the show work in much the same manner: the manipulation of source material into a broken essence refracted through the lens of time and the history of painting. (Erik Wennermark)
Through October 31 at Shane Campbell Gallery, 1431 W. Chicago Ave.