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SFGate

Bending the perimeter of control
By Kenneth Baker Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wood on Hyde: Bay Area painter John Wood has the rare knack of making small, busy abstract paintings seem big. Some strike the eye almost like scaled-down reproductions of themselves. Wood gets a tremendous quotient of gestural energy into his show at the phone-booth-size Hyde Street Gallery.Yet the smallest pieces measure considerably less than a foot square. The gestures involved cannot be expansive, but they evoke a vision that is.

Wood works frequently on pale blue paper that he mounts on panels. It provides a kind of muted drone beneath the staccato lines and troweled passages of acrylic.Neither submerged allusions nor the paintings' considered titles provide any obvious justification for Wood's declaring a piece such as "What We Have Instead" (2008) finished. His pictures stand as pure assertions of conviction, if not of confidence, in their artistic adequacy. Their very openness to dismissal forms part of their appeal.