Plants, pots, flowers, birds, cats, dogs, modernist furniture, books, toys—even a kitchen sink. And a toilet. From these quotidian objects, along with his relatives and associates, Jonas Wood fashions large, lush, dense paintings that reflect his life and his surroundings, not necessarily as they occurred but as filtered through his memory and his emotional mind-set.
A stainless-steel kitchen sink, for example, has rarely looked as attractive as it does in "Jungle Kitchen" (2017), which is based on an image Mr. Wood found in a 1970s design magazine. The sink is engulfed by verdant ferns and broad-leafed plants, both real, seen through a window, and on wallcoverings that are dotted with yellow and purple flowers. The highly patterned "Untitled (Fish Bathroom)" (2009), which is dominated by a shower curtain awash in red fish, is almost as appealing. "Japanese Garden" (2017) trumps them both: This enchanting scene of greens and blues seems contemplative, even a bit mysterious.
Mr. Wood's proclivity for things over people diminishes, of course, in his portraits, which occupy two of the five galleries in this exhibition. One focuses on family, and these works play up Mr. Wood's interest in psychology and the passage of time. The pairing of "Robin and Ptolemy" (2013) and "Robot" (2013-16), for example, addresses the unspecified "complicated" relationship he had with his mother, Robin. She is portrayed in profile, with her face all but hidden behind her tightly hugged cat. "Robot" shows Mr. Wood meeting the viewer's gaze, a shaggy dog in his arms. The message: He's friendly and open, she's not.
The third body of work here comes from his "Clippings" series: big, bold works portraying a single flower, with foliage, on a blank background. They are meant to impress, to hold a wall, and they do.
Calculated wall power, in fact, could be a theme of this exhibition. Mr. Wood is a sports fan—baseball cards, basketballs and players figure in his works, though not in the 35 paintings chosen by curator Anna Katherine Brodbeck for this show—and you can see him swinging for the fences. Soon after arriving in Los Angeles (from Boston, originally) and beginning his career, Mr. Wood painted "The Still Life" (2007)—an assortment of crates and plants, with chair, screen and skull—which he brashly called "the still life to end all still lifes." That was probably tongue-in-cheek, but Mr. Wood constantly drops heavy hints about his ambition with his allusions to giants of art history.
Snowscape With Barn
That painting also contains what may be his most brazen reach for greatness by association. In a famous story from 1832, as John Constable was laboring to enrich the colors of a nearly finished masterpiece at the Royal Academy, J.M.W. Turner upstaged him by adding a bright red buoy with one daub to his own almost monochromatic seascape hanging nearby. Could it be a coincidence that Mr. Wood plants a red shovel in his snow scene in about the same spot on his canvas as Turner's buoy?