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 painting, Fanned Book (2012) depicts the turning pages of a bound volume with marbled endpapers. Elsewhere, Ruscha’s text 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 facades 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, logotyped 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 and drawings his child made to abstract jottings that record running poker debts. The works thus straddle private and commercial zones through disorienting compressions of space and a deep attunement to patterning and color. Wood’s visual language finds a new iteration, playing between the portable and the monumental, between traditions of print and of paint, between inventions of his own and oblique responses to Ruscha’s peerless precedents.
From the Quarterly
Ed Ruscha and Joanne Northrup
Ed Ruscha sat down with JoAnne Northrup of the Nevada Museum of Art to discuss the exhibition Unsettled, which the two co-curated.
Art and Food
Mary Ann Caws and Charles Stuckey discuss the presence of food and the dining table in the history of modern art.
Jonas Wood: Mural
In Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 5,400-square-foot facade now hosts a vibrant mural by one of the city’s own artists. Meredith Mendelsohn reports on the impact the mural has on revitalizing the museum’s exterior and downtown.
Diana Widmaier Picasso, curator of the exhibition Desire, reflects on the history of eroticism in art.
Ed Ruscha’s Burning Gas Station (1965–66) was a game changer. Text by Larry Gagosian.
Ed Ruscha: On the Highline
The High Line Art Program’s Cecilia Alemani discusses Ed Ruscha’s mural.