A Lover's Discourse: Issy Wood

December 14, 2023–February , 2024

Issy Wood in the company of Fernando Botero

The fifth presentation of A Lover’s Discourse features Tasting it all, a new painting by London- based artist Issy Wood (b. 1993, USA) exhibited alongside Fernando Botero’s oil on canvas Lovers from 1982. A new text by Wood accompanies the display and expands on her long-time interest in the volumetric figuration and stylized characters championed by the renowned Colombian painter, who passed away earlier this year. Wood’s new work shows a larger-than-life can of Diet Coke resting on its side. Lively and seemingly content on its horizontal plane, this stretched object takes up the full canvas and locks our gaze in close. Physical proximity is a recurring spatial motif in Wood’s work: her subjects—whether it be a leather car seat, a self-portrait, an antique ornament, or a pile of recyclable waste—tend to materialize through unnerving close-ups and focused crops derived from more expansive scenes. Experiencing this closeness arouses cravings, repulsions, intrusions, and desires. The emotional scripts within Wood’s paintings recur and mutate, never wearing out. Surreal, oneiric, and feminist undertones in her paintings and texts connect Wood with a lineage of twentieth century artists including Leonora Carrington and Lee Lozano. Her work is seen here for the first time in conversation with the practice of Fernando Botero, whose polarizing paintings of swollen, exaggerated people and objects have spilled into mainstream circuits in his namesake style “Boterismo.” Committed to figuration and realism, these two artists seem drawn to reality merely as a foundational source material. Interested in the semiotics of Botero’s unabashedly massive bodily forms, Wood chooses to juxtapose Lovers with a depiction of the popular sugar-free drink, perhaps one of America’s most successful attempts at generating—and dealing with—both pleasure and guilt.

List of works:

Issy Wood Tasting it all , 2023 Oil on linen 39 5/8 × 94 1/2 × 2 in Courtesy the artist; Carlos/Ishikawa, London; and Michael Werner Gallery, New York

Fernando Botero Lovers , 1982 Oil on canvas 41 1/4 × 33 1/2 in Private Collection

Issy Wood’s paintings suggest a stream of consciousness hiding something foreboding, a medieval current creeping into the millennial. Wood’s work is encrypted with symbols that suggest a psyche trying to consolidate its own interiority with social forces and layers of history—exploring how these tensions shape ideas of objectification, desire, and value. Major solo presentations of Wood’s have been staged at institutions including the Lafayette Anticipations, Paris (2023–24); the Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul (2023); and Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), London (2019). Her work has also recently been presented at the ICA Miami (2022); the Hayward Gallery, London (2021); LACMA (2021); the Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin (2019); amongst others. Wood’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Boston; Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Miami; the National Portrait Gallery, London; Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum, Providence; Sharjah Art Foundation; Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing; Start Museum, Shanghai; Tate, UK; X Museum, Beijing; and Zabludowicz Collection, London; amongst others.

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