Jan Nel­son


Born Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia 1955

Lives and works in Melbourne

Jan Nelson’s works exploit emo­tion­al, tex­tur­al and chro­mat­ic inten­si­ty, oscil­lat­ing between fear and pow­er, com­pla­cen­cy and dis­sent. Lay­ered with­in the artist’s work is per­son­al expe­ri­ence of her own for­ma­tive years dur­ing the social, polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al tumult of the 1970s.

Nelson’s ongo­ing series, Walk­ing in Tall Grass, is a sequence of hyper-real paint­ings of chil­dren and ado­les­cents on the cusp of adult­hood, paint­ed in bright­ly sat­u­rat­ed colour. Both allur­ing and dis­qui­et­ing, the dynamism of the paint­ings stems from the artist’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion states of change. The works are ren­dered with the gloss of adver­tis­ing imagery, yet the chil­dren retain the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of their age. There are ten­sions present between pho­tog­ra­phy and paint­ing, the inte­ri­or world of the chil­dren and their pub­lic presentation.

Jan Nel­son grad­u­at­ed from the Vic­to­ri­an Col­lege of the Arts, Mel­bourne in 1983. Her works are pre­sent­ed in major pub­lic col­lec­tions in Aus­tralia includ­ing the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Syd­ney; Nation­al Gallery of Vic­to­ria, Mel­bourne; Muse­um of Con­tem­po­rary Art Aus­tralia, Syd­ney; Monash Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lec­tion, Mel­bourne; Bendi­go Art Gallery; Hei­de Muse­um of Mod­ern Art, Mel­bourne; Nation­al Gallery of Aus­tralia, Can­ber­ra; GOMA / Queens­land Art Gallery, Bris­bane; Art Gallery of West­ern Aus­tralia, Perth. Nel­son rep­re­sent­ed Aus­tralia at the XXV Bien­al de São Paulo. In 2004 she was the recip­i­ent of the John McCaugh­ey Memo­r­i­al Art Prize at the Nation­al Gallery of Vic­to­ria and in 2009 she won the Arthur Guy Memo­r­i­al Paint­ing Prize, Bendi­go Art Gallery.



Available Works

Jan Nel­son

Black Riv­er Run­ning #13, 2019
oil on linen
7559 cm

Jan Nel­son

Walk­ing in Tall Grass, Betty, 2010
oil and liquin on linen
7653.5 cm

Jan Nel­son

Walk­ing in Tall Grass, Bag, 2003
C‑type photograph
113.6136.2 cm
Edi­tion of 3


Per­fect Illusion

When peo­ple look at my work they think they’re so real, they’re por­traits of […]

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Jan Nel­son: Black Riv­er Running

Jan Nel­son’s ten paint­ings of life-size fig­ures hang sparse­ly in the gallery. Stripes of […]

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In the Gal­leries: Five Shows to See in May

Black Riv­er Run­ning by Jan Nel­son Jan Nel­son grew up in the cul­tur­al tumult […]

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Lis­ten­ing to Music Played Back­wards: Recent Acqui­si­tions cel­e­brates works in the Hei­de col­lec­tion acquired […]

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