It is not often that David Hockney and Dwayne Schintzius come up in the same conversation.
The art of Jonas Wood, however, is one of the rare places that the British pop-art pioneer and the late NBA journeyman can coexist.
On the one hand, Wood's brand of off-kilter realism is often compared to Hockney's work, and Wood cites Hockney as one of his major influences. On the other hand, Wood's current show of portraits at the Anton Kern Gallery in Manhattan is dominated by an enormous painting of an early-1990s San Antonio Spurs basketball card featuring Schintzius — the former UF star from Brandon — and his legendary mullet (nicknamed the Lobster).
Sports has always played an outsize role in Wood's work. His love of portraiture drew him to sports cards, whose bold typography and abstract backgrounds are elements that Wood loves to experiment with.
He is also fascinated by Manute Bol — he has painted the 7-foot-7 former basketball center numerous times. From the lighting and composition of a televised poker match to a floating basketball to the confrontational stare in a promotional boxing poster, Wood has found inspiration in the unlikeliest corners of the sports world.
He was born outside Boston, and grew up idolizing Larry Bird and rooting for the local teams. After college, he moved to Los Angeles, where he adopted the Los Angeles Clippers and matured as an artist. The New York Times critic Roberta Smith said his work "presents a highly personal but impersonally observed reality."
Museums like the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art feature his work in their collections, and paintings of his have sold for six figures at auction. Through it all, Wood continues to use sports as one of his major themes.
Wood was asked to select some of his favorite sports-theme paintings and to explain what drew him to his subjects. Here are two of them and the artist's comments about what inspired him.
Photos: Jonas Wood via the New York Times