Robin and Ptolemy


Jonas Wood ( American, 1977 )

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General Description

Jonas Wood is known for his colorful and compressed depictions of the people, places, and things that populate his daily life. Both the form and the content of his work bear clear traces of his biography: the artist grew up surrounded by works by notable modernists such as Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, and Helen Frankenthaler collected by his grandfather, who was an amateur painter. While the pictures that Wood creates are based on intense real life observation, the worlds they depict are ultimately fictive, subjected to a process of manipulation through preparatory photo collages.

Robin and Ptolemy depicts Wood’s late mother, Robin, with her cat Ptolemy. In this intimate portrait, Robin’s identity is obscured. Clutching Ptolemy fiercely to her torso, she uses his body to cover her own, hiding her face from the gaze of the viewer. Wood’s exaggerated use of color, line, and scale emphasize this positioning, flattening Robin into the background of the canvas, while Ptolemy is thrust forward, his anxious facial expression concealing and substituting for his owner’s.

Excerpt from

Anna Katherine Brodbeck, ed., TWO X TWO X TWENTY: Two Decades Supporting Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art), 2018, 271.

Web Resources

  • Guggenheim
    Learn more about Wood's use of fragmentary and distorted perspectives.