Heads up shoulders back 2010
Oil on linen
Redland Art Gallery Collection. Acquired in 2016 with Redland Art Gallery Acquisition Funds.
Monica Rohan is interested in theories around biography and narrative. Through portraiture she expresses common experiences of frailty and limitation. Her works thoughtfully expose often concealed inner conflicts and fragilities.
Rohan’s characteristic compositions couple vibrant and detailed patterns with gentle figurative poses. Her works initially evoke a sense of whimsy that is displaced on closer examination. Blending realism and abstraction, figures appear at odds with their surroundings, alluding to unsettling and unseen forces.
In Head up shoulders back, Rohan plays on the demand often directed to introverts to be confident and supress self-consciousness. The two figures defy the demand and are slumped with their hands clasped, revealing their apprehension. Contrasted with their exaggerated size and drama of the repetitive pattern of their dress, Rohan captures the tension between the desire to withdraw and the inevitability of being seen.
Rohan’s compositions, influenced by the artist Amy Cutler and Édouard Vuillard’s Interior, Mother and Sister of the Artist (1893), also explore the potential of pattern. Drawing on patterns from everyday environments, such as nature or fabric, Rohan cites her childhood spent drawing and exploring the hills surrounding her family’s farm as another influence to her practice.
Rohan lives and works in Brisbane. Born in Beaudesert, Queensland, Rohan is a Griffith University Queensland College of Art Fine Art Honours Graduate (2011) and Archibald Prize finalist (2016). Heads up shoulders back was the runner up in the 2016 Redland Art Awards.