Ed Ruscha & Jonas Wood
30 Mar — 17 Jun 2017 at the Gagosian Gallery in San Francisco, United States
Gagosian is pleased to present “Notepads, Holograms and Books,” an exhibition of works by Ed Ruscha and Jonas Wood, two artists who explore the nature of the real and the represented, language and image, writing and typography. The exhibition includes paintings, holograms, and hand-modified books by Ruscha, and new paintings by Wood.
In Ruscha’s work, the traditions and techniques of graphic design and the restrained artistry of typesetting serve as vehicles for the commutation between picture and word, sign and signifier.
He superimposes text and image across media: from billboards to books; from screens to paintings and holograms. With the reverence and technical mastery of a trompe l'oeil, the painting Fanned Book (2012) depicts the turning pages of a bound volume with marbled endpapers. Elsewhere, Ruscha’s word-paintings of phrases such as “OH NO,” migrate to the spines and fore-edges of actual books. Small works on canvas show granular, individual typeset alphabetic letters—examining the form, as much as the emblematic function, of the phoneme—and a hologram proclaims “THE END” in stylized letters on what appears to be vellum, making light projection resemble an archaic art. Through a shifting exchange of abstraction and figuration, the book in all its forms pervades Ruscha’s investigations of the nature of language and the distribution of information.
For Wood, shifts in scale push the limits of traditional painting genres. The still life, a recurring theme in his work, has been the subject of abstracted enlargement before. In public commissions, he has covered the façades of buildings with vivid paintings of potted plants, the overlapping leaves, shelves, and cylindrical vases taking on the grandeur of a rainforest or cityscape. In “Notepads, Holograms and Books,” logo-typed and trademarked desk notepads are enlarged to become wall-covering canvases, which act as backdrops for paintings. Typographic emblems, such as “Gagosian Gallery” and “Maritime Hotel,” are silk-screened onto canvas, mimicking the original format of the signature-branded notepads. The impulse for these works originates in Wood’s habit of drawing on hotel and office stationery. Transposed from small drawings to large-scale compositions, the subjects of the paintings range from foliage, to an image inspired by drawings his child made, to abstract jottings that record running poker debts. The works thus straddle the private and the commercial through disorienting compressions of space and deep attunement to patterning and color. Wood's visual language finds a new iteration, playing between the portable and the monumental, traditions of print and paint, inventions of his own and oblique responses to Ruscha’s peerless precedents.
Ed Ruscha was born in 1937 in Omaha, Nebraska and lives and works in Los Angeles. His work is collected by museums worldwide. Exhibitions include “Ed Ruscha: Fifty Years of Painting,” Haus der Kunst, Munich (2009 traveled to Moderna Museet, Stockholm, through 2010); “On the Road,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011, traveled to Denver Art Museum, CO; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, through 2012); “Artist Rooms on Tour: Ed Ruscha,” Tate Modern, London (2009, traveled to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, UK; and Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, UK, through 2013); “Ed Ruscha: Standard,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012, traveled to Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, MA, through 2013); “Los Angeles Apartments,” Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland (2013); “In Focus: Ed Ruscha,” J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (2013); the 13th Biennale de Lyon (2015); and “Ed Ruscha and the Great American West,” de Young Museum, San Francisco (2016).
Jonas Wood was born in Boston in 1977, and lives and works in Los Angeles. Collections include Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; The Broad, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Murals and solo exhibitions include “Hammer Projects: Jonas Wood,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2010); “Jonas Wood: Clippings,” Lever House, New York (2013-14); Shelf Still Life, High Line Art (2014); LAXART Facade (2014); and Still Life with Two Owls (MOCA), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2016).