FIGURATIVE PAINTING AND DRAWING
Jen Olson is a contemporary figurative artist based in Cromwell, Central Otago. Her abstract and surreal figures are produced with a variety of media, including ink, acrylics, graphite, and gold leaf.
Jen is best known for chasing the awkward exchanges, uncomfortable feelings, and fragile connections that make us all messy and gloriously human. Her figures are boldly coloured and emphasised by careful line work. Exaggerated features and ghostly bones are metaphors for buried emotions.
Jen is influenced by other figurative and narrative artists like Georgia O'Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Mark Ryden, Bill Hammond, and Egon Schiele - all masters of weaving a great story into and around their figures. She isn’t happy until there’s some tension in a painting: whether it’s a startling contrast in textures, an intense gaze or exaggerated forms. The concept of fate often appears in her work as a source of that tension – questioning whether fate is in change, or if we drive our own story.
A self-taught artist, Jen has been exhibiting since 2013 and her work is in collections in New Zealand, Australia, USA and the UK. She has been involved in solo and group shows, murals, children's illustrations, wine labels, a natural history book, and she's organised several community fundraising exhibitions. She likes dreaming up and installing shows just as much as participating in them, and doesn't leave the house without a tape measure - just in case.