Issy Wood (QuarARTine special episode)

Russell and Robert return for Season 5! Recorded primarily during quarantine lockdown, we’ve reached out to international creative guests from art, design, music, sport, fashion, TV and film. Every Tuesday & Friday (yes, twice a week!) we will bring you voices that inspire us and that we hope will inspire you too. These are unprecedented, scary, challenging and deeply sad times. We strongly believe in art and in its power to unify, to resonate, to bring hope through adversity, to offer encouragement but most of all to shine light in the darkest of moments.

For episode 1, we meet artist Issy Wood, best-known for her incredible paintings but also as an acclaimed musician and writer. Represented by Carlos Ishikawa in London and JTT in New York. Wood’s paintings find comfort in the uncomfortable, and vice versa. Uncannily familiar yet entirely strange, they are both painterly in an impressionist style and subtle imposters in their anachronism. Depicting contemporary ephemera such as mobile phones and car interiors, she impulsively renders apparently unconnected subject matter on lush velvet or discarded items of clothing, mimicking the non-sequiturs of social media. These works indicate an obsessive relationship to commodities, both treasured and discarded, inherited or stolen, gathered from the pages of auction catalogues, or snapshots from her on and offline surroundings.

Palpable throughout the work is Wood’s negotiation of her personal life through her relationship to objects and figures, such as Joan Rivers’ auctioned jewellery and Rivers herself, which she invests with fetishistic and sometimes tragic symbolism. The patterns of thematic repetition in her body of work perform a pathological, even medical, excavation; or perhaps an attempt to exorcise their seductive appeal, treading the fine line between advert and pervert.

The resulting vision is a mournful one, rendered in a muted palette, and compositionally disquieting, with implausible perspectives, crushed distances and a certain claustrophobia – we never see a sky line or a full body. Here and there, faces might emerge from inert forms, or incongruous objects jar in the pictorial frame, lacing Wood’s work with a neurotic and hallucinogenic humour.

Issy Wood graduated from RA Schools, London (2018), and studied BA Fine Art & History of Art, Goldsmiths (2015). She has previously exhibited at MoMA, Warsaw (2019), JTT, New York (2019), D.E.L.F, Vienna (2018), Carlos/Ishikawa, London (2017). Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Zabludowicz Collection, London; Lisson Gallery, London; S12, London; Mendes Wood, Brussels; Société, Berlin; Tate St Ives, UK; White Cube, London; amongst others.


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