HARRIS HARVEY GALLERY, Seattle WA – Dec 6, 2018 – Jan 19, 2019
by Matthew Kangas
Few trained printmakers are able to make the transition to painting, but Thomas Wood is a success story. Maybe it’s because his studies were mostly in Europe – Florence and Amsterdam – after he obtained degrees in the Northwest US. At fi rst glance realistic, the canvases and prints quickly become fantasy journeys among mythological animals and plant species. The etchings (documented in two monographs published in 1998) are technically amazing, while the new oils are his best yet, expressionistic and colorful.
Visitors may compare the early intensively meticulous aquatints, drypoints, intaglios and mezzotints of self-portraits, landscapes, birds, fi sh and other animals that populate Wood’s natural world. These foreshadow the broader, less surrealistic paintings, which carry elements of landscape into more interior and intimate expressions. Several depict scenes of the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) and San Juan Islands, as well as forests, madrona and cypress groves, with moonlight and sunset scenes recalling Charles Burchfi eld, Emil Nolde and Odilon Redon.
Wood is taking more chances now, shifting away from the anchoring depiction of reality in his earlier work toward an abstracted meditation on light, color and shadow. Emotional states are conveyed through thick slabs of color, carved spaces among trees, and light-fi lled ponds and boat harbors. Critics have mentioned symbolic and metaphorical implications, aspects that may derive from his studies of Renaissance printmaking at Il Bisonte School of Graphic Art, where he also taught beginning in 2000 while living in Florence.
He has been included in signifi cant group shows of printmakers in Venice, New Orleans, Boston and elsewhere. Determined in his inspirations of Northwest scenery, Wood often uses his sailboat to scout locations and fi nd vistas he later transforms into prints and paintings of uncommon individuality. Art museums in Tacoma, Philadelphia and New Haven, Connecticut, have acquired his works, as have collectors in Milan, Indianapolis and Chicago.