Jonas Wood and Shio Kusaka exhibit together for the first time at Gagosian Hong Kong; Wood is new to the Gagosian roster, a surprising move after a long allegiance to Los Angeles dealer David Kordansky, and both artists are new to Hong Kong, so the relationships are fresh all around. The one constant here is the tie between Wood and Kusaka, who title their exhibition after the street in Culver City where they live and work: “Blackwelder.”
Wood is known for his intensely flat, almost collage-like paintings of a couple varieties of subject matter: athletes and pots. Both are drawn from his immediate environment. He likes sports, and his wife is a potter. There are more complex levels of mediation involved (the athletes come primarily from cards and printed images, and the pots are often depicted with images on their surfaces), but they are largely beside the point. Wood’s fascination with these vessels creates a bounded space within which to explore images and their processing in painting practice, as when landscapes appear on pots themselves situated within other landscapes.
Kusaka makes these and other pots. Her contributions to the exhibition are extremely well selected, with thematic units that offer up investigations of the qualities that make up her practice: near the entrance, a set of blue and white vessels looks at classical proportion and form; further in, small, monochromatic semi-spheres recall fruits in all the colors of the rainbow. Her triumph comes with a handful of larger urns in earth tones etched with dinosaurs, the renderings of which come directly from primary school science textbooks. There is something dynamic about the interplay between life and work here—nothing groundbreaking, but enough to build a practice on.
What is fascinating is the incessant back and forth between these two artists; Wood began by painting Kusaka’s ceramics, which have also evolved over time in response to his painting. It is exciting to see both streams together here, albeit somewhat disorienting to see so many objects that are clearly the product of a particularly situated life displace to Hong Kong. There is something in this about the role that Hong Kong is beginning to play in the global art ecology—itself a vessel intended to absorb the restructurings of an art world that does not yet know quite what to do with it.