Under The Microscope: Jake Wood-Evans
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Under The Microscope: Jake Wood-Evans

Jake Wood-Evans

Jake Wood-Evans in his studio, 2019

In this, the second instalment of an in-depth series looking at Unit London artists, we hone in on the career of Jake Wood-Evans; from his inclusion in a group show back in 2015, to major solo shows at the gallery and other cultural institutions. In many ways the story of Jake Wood-Evans is the story of Unit London: the first work the gallery sold was Jake's, and he has risen over the years to become something of a standard bearer for the Unit London roster. A fresh young artist for a fresh young gallery, Jake's artistic trajectory is synonymous with our own and - as his latest solo show Relic would, in less turbulent times, currently be in our Mayfair space - we think now is the perfect moment to look back at everything Jake has achieved over the last five years.

Paintguide - 2015

The group show Paintguide was one of the first times Jake’s work adorned the Unit London walls. Although he had exhibited as far back as 2013, in our group show Looking for U, by the time Paintguide launched the gallery was beginning to gain a substantial following. Jake’s Study of an Author hung just one painting away from Heizer by Ryan Hewett - a sign of things to come as both would go on to be leading Unit London artists.

Study of an Author heralded the arrival of Jake Wood-Evans at Unit London. Even in a temporary space rented by a fledgling gallery, the flashes of cadmium red adumbrating the hazy outline of a Victorian gentleman, rendered as if pixelated by time, exuded a kind of gravitas unmatched by anything else in the room. It was clear that this was work of real refinement, class and exceptional draftsmanship.

Study of an Author heralded the arrival of Jake Wood-Evans at Unit London. Even in a temporary space rented by a fledgling gallery, the flashes of cadmium red adumbrating the hazy outline of a Victorian gentleman, rendered as if pixelated by time, exuded a kind of gravitas unmatched by anything else in the room. It was clear that this was work of real refinement, class and exceptional draftsmanship.

Paintguide - 2015

The group show Paintguide was one of the first times Jake’s work adorned the Unit London walls. Although he had exhibited as far back as 2013, in our group show Looking for U, by the time Paintguide launched the gallery was beginning to gain a substantial following. Jake’s Study of an Author hung just one painting away from Heizer by Ryan Hewett - a sign of things to come as both would go on to be leading Unit London artists.

Paintguide - Private View

Subjection and Discipline - 2016

Subjection & Discipline was Jake’s first major London solo show. Taking inspiration from 18th century painters, including works by Joshua Reynolds and Henry Raeburn, Jake set about reworking the pieces in his uniquely haunting yet evocative style. Viewed together, the body of work is eerily reminiscent of an art collection of a great estate in the early years of the British Empire. Faces are defiled and figures appear as apparitions, subjects range from a ghostly vision of a society lady to a fading portrait of a once proud general. Such subject matter made for some wonderful private view images, as these society figures mingled with the contemporary audience, occasionally catching the photographer's eye through the crowds.

“By scrubbing, scratching and erasing certain areas while building up others, Jake’s paintings are kind of physically pushed and pulled out of the canvas. Thick layers of paint contrast with saturated oil on canvas, laying the grain bare. Jake uses light very powerfully, it emerges from his loose and instinctive application of paint. Each work bears the marks of his journey and are just as fascinating when viewed up close as they are when viewed in their entirety.” - Joe Kenendy, Co-founder, Unit London, 2016

“By scrubbing, scratching and erasing certain areas while building up others, Jake’s paintings are kind of physically pushed and pulled out of the canvas. Thick layers of paint contrast with saturated oil on canvas, laying the grain bare. Jake uses light very powerfully, it emerges from his loose and instinctive application of paint. Each work bears the marks of his journey and are just as fascinating when viewed up close as they are when viewed in their entirety.” - Joe Kenendy, Co-founder, Unit London, 2016

Subjection and Discipline - 2016

Subjection & Discipline was Jake’s first major London solo show. Taking inspiration from 18th century painters, including works by Joshua Reynolds and Henry Raeburn, Jake set about reworking the pieces in his uniquely haunting yet evocative style. Viewed together, the body of work is eerily reminiscent of an art collection of a great estate in the early years of the British Empire. Faces are defiled and figures appear as apparitions, subjects range from a ghostly vision of a society lady to a fading portrait of a once proud general. Such subject matter made for some wonderful private view images, as these society figures mingled with the contemporary audience, occasionally catching the photographer's eye through the crowds.

Subjection & Discipline - Studio

Subjection & Discipline - Install

Subjection & Discipline - Private View

Subjection & Discipline - Video

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Transitions - 2017

Following the success of Subjection and Discipline, Wood-Evans returned to Unit London with Transitions: a body of work that marked a shift from portrait to landscapes, as well as a deeper foray into the abstracted element of his work. The works were mainly richly coloured, lightly-hued depictions of seascapes or bucolic vistas, all appearing as if through a veil or layer of vapour.

In this body of work Jake’s pool of muses was growing: here John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer and George Stubbs begin to feature. Drawing on these masters’ legacies, Jake’s intention was to capture the essence of these historic works without replicating them, preserving the warmth and glow of the original paintings while moving his practice further towards abstraction.

In this body of work Jake’s pool of muses was growing: here John Constable, J.M.W. Turner, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer and George Stubbs begin to feature. Drawing on these masters’ legacies, Jake’s intention was to capture the essence of these historic works without replicating them, preserving the warmth and glow of the original paintings while moving his practice further towards abstraction.

Transitions - 2017

Following the success of Subjection and Discipline, Wood-Evans returned to Unit London with Transitions: a body of work that marked a shift from portrait to landscapes, as well as a deeper foray into the abstracted element of his work. The works were mainly richly coloured, lightly-hued depictions of seascapes or bucolic vistas, all appearing as if through a veil or layer of vapour.

Transitions - Studio

Transitions - Install

Transitions - Private View

Legacy & Disorder - 2019

By the time Jake's next show launched - in May last year - the gallery had moved into its new and permanent home on Hanover Square. As Jake's rise to prominence had dovetailed so nicely with the rise of Unit London as a gallery, it almost felt as if the new space would not quite be complete until it had been christened with a Jake Wood-Evans solo show. Legacy & Disorder saw an amalgamation of everything Jake had learnt from Subjection and Discipline and Transitions, culminating in a truly incredible and diverse range of work.

Legacy & Disorder followed Wood-Evans’ 2018 museum exhibition REPORTRAIT at the Nottingham Castle Museum; with  his solo shows in London now underpinned by a more traditional cultural backing, it seemed as though this was the time for Jake to really start asserting himself on the art world, of course, that is exactly what happened. In a departure from his previous body of work, the surface of Wood-Evans' new canvases had a smooth, glossy and delicate finish, achieved through the artist’s use of colour and light. Alongside precise attention to detail and a studied craftsmanship, there was an obvious joy in experimentation and a confidence in the looseness of paint application. Reworking and reusing previously painted and discarded canvases, Wood-Evans introduced an anarchy of shape, form and colour, which perfectly reflected the magnificent pandemonium of life, past and present.

 

Legacy & Disorder followed Wood-Evans’ 2018 museum exhibition REPORTRAIT at the Nottingham Castle Museum; with  his solo shows in London now underpinned by a more traditional cultural backing, it seemed as though this was the time for Jake to really start asserting himself on the art world, of course, that is exactly what happened. In a departure from his previous body of work, the surface of Wood-Evans' new canvases had a smooth, glossy and delicate finish, achieved through the artist’s use of colour and light. Alongside precise attention to detail and a studied craftsmanship, there was an obvious joy in experimentation and a confidence in the looseness of paint application. Reworking and reusing previously painted and discarded canvases, Wood-Evans introduced an anarchy of shape, form and colour, which perfectly reflected the magnificent pandemonium of life, past and present.

 

Legacy & Disorder - 2019

By the time Jake's next show launched - in May last year - the gallery had moved into its new and permanent home on Hanover Square. As Jake's rise to prominence had dovetailed so nicely with the rise of Unit London as a gallery, it almost felt as if the new space would not quite be complete until it had been christened with a Jake Wood-Evans solo show. Legacy & Disorder saw an amalgamation of everything Jake had learnt from Subjection and Discipline and Transitions, culminating in a truly incredible and diverse range of work.

Legacy & Disorder - Studio

Legacy & Disorder - Install

Legacy & Disorder - Private View

Legacy & Disorder - Video

Play
Pause

Relic - 2019/20

This, the latest body of work from Jake Wood-Evans, continues the artist’s meditative explorations of memory and mortality. Relic sees Jake respond to his influences in the Baroque art historical canon: Rubens, Van Dyck and Poussin form the basis for the show. Whereas previously Wood-Evans’ work had a figurative core, we now see the artist in a period of subtraction and deeper abstraction. In taking away the rigidity imposed by a figurative structure, Jake has enabled himself to add emotional depth. These paintings capture the essence of what it was to view a Wood Evan’s portrait from Subjection & Discipline or Legacy & Disorder, the subject and composition has changed, but the qualia remains broadly the same. Wood-Evans’ has reduced the aesthetic experience down to something tighter, more concise, more intense - like a poem condensed into a single line.

 

“If you’re not taking risks in your painting you’re not really finding out new things. Even in the smallest marks, when you’re rendering anything, the mark you make is a risk and that risk gets greater the more time you spend on the piece. If you’re too worried about getting things wrong it can become contrived and you lose what you were trying to do.” Jake Wood-Evans, In Conversation, 2019

“If you’re not taking risks in your painting you’re not really finding out new things. Even in the smallest marks, when you’re rendering anything, the mark you make is a risk and that risk gets greater the more time you spend on the piece. If you’re too worried about getting things wrong it can become contrived and you lose what you were trying to do.” Jake Wood-Evans, In Conversation, 2019

Relic - 2019/20

This, the latest body of work from Jake Wood-Evans, continues the artist’s meditative explorations of memory and mortality. Relic sees Jake respond to his influences in the Baroque art historical canon: Rubens, Van Dyck and Poussin form the basis for the show. Whereas previously Wood-Evans’ work had a figurative core, we now see the artist in a period of subtraction and deeper abstraction. In taking away the rigidity imposed by a figurative structure, Jake has enabled himself to add emotional depth. These paintings capture the essence of what it was to view a Wood Evan’s portrait from Subjection & Discipline or Legacy & Disorder, the subject and composition has changed, but the qualia remains broadly the same. Wood-Evans’ has reduced the aesthetic experience down to something tighter, more concise, more intense - like a poem condensed into a single line.

 

Relic - Studio

Relic - Install

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