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Jan Nelson

Walking_in_tall_grass,_Martin.jpg

Jan Nelson | Australia b.1955 | Walking in tall grass, Martin 2007 | Oil and liquin on linen | 83 x 60cm | Purchased 2007. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Jan Nelson 2007. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2009

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Jan Nelson                                   
Australia  b.1955
Walking in tall grass, Martin 2007
Oil and liquin on linen
83 x 60cm
Purchased 2007. The Queensland Government’s Gallery of Modern Art Acquisitions Fund
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
© Jan Nelson 2007. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2009

Jan Nelson

Walking in tall grass, Martin 2007

Jan Nelson creates her hyper-real ‘Walking in tall grass’ paintings by first photographing and then painting her young subjects using a bright, intense palette. Each subject is named, and each appears according to his or her wishes. Despite their distinctive appearance, her adolescent subjects nevertheless wear recognisably popular clothes and accessories — accoutrements of ‘fitting in’ and belonging.

Walking in tall grass, Martin is an intimate portrait of a teenage boy deeply absorbed in thought. Martin has been captured against a brightly coloured ground, and removed from any specific sense of social location or context. A pair of talismanic gerberas are the focus of his gaze, which is hidden behind mirrored glasses, giving him a mute, intense quality. Hyper-realist in her style, Nelson has paid meticulous attention to recreating the look of the original photograph in paint. This focus on detail and finish expands the sense of possibility that exists at the juncture between the two media: Walking in tall grass, Martin has the immediate reading power of a photograph, but is combined with the technical virtuosity of the skilled painter.

Nelson’s art focuses on the moments, gaps and pauses that punctuate our experience of time and passing events. As the artist has noted, this series is constructed around the notion of the ‘space between’ the actual world we exist in and the one we desire.

Speaking of the desire to transcend the everyday, she cites the private world of emotion and imagination as spaces of refuge and possible liberation. The years between childhood and adulthood are marked by great transitions. Nelson portrays these adolescents during moments of reflection, when they are truly themselves and not the sum of their outward clothes and accessories.