In the 13 years since quitting his day job, Jonas Wood has had a meteoric rise in the art world. The 42-year-old American painter has been collected by the Met, MOMA, LACMA, Guggenheim, and Whitney, to name a few. He generated $13.2 million in sales in 2018, claiming the top spot on the ArtNet Intelligence Report for “ultra-contemporary” artists (born after 1974). The year before that, he was in Dallas for the TWO X TWO art auction, where a single painting of his sold for $1.2 million. And this week, he celebrated the opening of his first major solo museum exhibition, a mid-career survey on view at the Dallas Museum of Art.
The exhibit is a selection of 30-something paintings, mostly large-scale works depicting everyday scenes in intense color and geometry. They are portraits of his family, images of lived-in spaces, landscapes. It reads like a journal of Wood’s observations, but it’s ultimately a work of fiction, made from a collage of the artist’s memories, fascinations, and pictures he found online.
It’s nothing revolutionary, just clean-cut contemporary art with personality and sharp taste (in one living room scene, there’s a mobile by Alexander Calder, whose artwork Wood’s grandfather collected). You’ll appreciate it more when you discover the underlying layers of intimate details, like the portrait of his daughter in his own childhood bedroom, surrounded by toys which belonged to his sister, or the inclusion of ceramics by his wife, artist Shio Kusaka, in the paintings.
There’s something wonderfully modern, maybe even on-trend, about Wood’s aesthetic. It’s at once sophisticated and rudimentary, sober and surreal. You’ll sense the impact when you walk up to 10-foot-tall canvases. It feels nice to spend a bit of time in the artist’s world, surrounded by beautiful decor and thriving house plants.
Jonas Wood is on view at the Dallas Museum of Art through July 14. It’s free to attend and definitely worth the trip.