Good Weekend Art Column

Jason Moad – Fox Galleries, Melbourne

Published September 15, 2020
Jason Moad, 'The High Priestess' (2017-19)

Artist: Jason Moad

Lives: Preston, Melbourne.

Age: 47

Represented by: Fox Galleries (.M Contemporary, Sydney)

His thing: Intensely realistic paintings intended to bring out the personalities of plants.

Our take. Anyone who has ever found themselves talking to their pot plants should enjoy Jason Moad’s Two Worlds and In-between, at Fox Galleries. An exacting realist, Moad takes the greatest pains to reproduce a variety of surfaces in his pictures. In the past his motifs have included piles of books, cars, skulls, interiors, and the occasional portrait. For this show he has devoted himself excusively to plants, most of them drawn from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

Initially attracted to these spikey growths because of their formal qualities, Moad found himself becoming absorbed in their “presence and personality”. The longer he looked, the more he began to believe that these plants had as much spirit and individuality as animals and humans. As a consequence the works in this exhibition might be viewed as portraits rather than still life studies. By isolating his subjects against neutral backgrounds he gives them a monumental dimension.

At the same time Moad recognised the life force of plants is utterly different from that of animals, hence the recurring title, Other Than Human. This otherness is emphasised by a bold use of colour. The leaves on these plants are not just shades of green, but blue and magenta. The closer the focus the more surreal each form becomes. The artist would like us to believe that when we stare at a plant, the plant is also staring at us.

Can I afford it?

All the works in this show are oil paintings. The most expensive is The High Priestess (167cm by 152cm) at $7,500. This equals Moad’s record price, for a self-portrait painted for the Archibald Prize. At the bottom of the scale is Thought form (51cm by 41cm), for $2,200. For such rigorous work these are modest prices. The joy of painted plants is that they never require watering.

 Where can I have a squiz?

Fox Galleries, 79 Langridge Street, Collingwood, Melbourne.  Until 7 March – 29 April, 2020.


Published in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March, 2020