The Exploration of Jon Molvig

Self-portrait, 1948
Oil on canvas on hardboard / 34.5 x 29cm / City of Brisbane Collection, Museum of Brisbane


This digital section continues the exploration of Jon Molvig’s work

Thoughts from Jim Cobb

I have set out in this digital section a series of Molvig’s paintings, which were photographed at his exhibition at the Queensland Gallery, which also has an excellent book on sale if you are interested.

Hotel Lounge, 1958
Oil on composition board / 121 x 156.2cm / The Stuartholme-Behan Collection of Australian Art, The University of Queensland


I have found links on the internet to 3 artists whose work influenced Molvig – they are Oscar Kokoschka, Ludwig Kirchner and Edvard Munch.

Oskar Kokoschka

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner

Edvard Munch

“We see Molvig as receptive to many different influences, but with an artistic personality that was big enough to throttle them into the shape of his own distinctive vision.”

John McDonald, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 2019)

Bride and groom, 1956
Oil on hardboard / 152.4 x 122cm / Purchased 1978 / Collection: Art Gallery of New South Wales

In other words, all artists have been influenced by other artists, but only good ones absorb and make those influences their own.

The following quote was made by Robert Hughes commenting on Molvig’s very personal sense of colour.

“Molvig’s colour, with its harsh energy and violent juxtapositions – blue and orange, red against green, purple over yellow – resembles Kirchner’s, but it has a delicacy, even a sweetness, totally unlike the colour of the German expressionists…Molvig has no theory of colour. He uses it intuitively, in correspondence with his emotional state.”

Robert Hughes, The Art of Australia, pp.214)

The Bridesmaids, 1956
Oil on hardboard / 152.4 x 122cm / Hassall Collection


We must remind ourselves that we are in Australia in 1950’s and Molvig was the only Australian artist with a European connection at that time, and he knew he would not be understood or appreciated because Australia was so isolated from the rest of the World.

Head of a madman, 1957
Oil on composition board / 73 x 59cm / Purchased 2000 / QUT Art Collection


Living as I do now in Brisbane, I intend to visit this exhibition twice more before it comes down because I enjoyed it so much, so I am hoping that my viewers will also enjoy what I have put together about this neglected artist’s work.

“Mr Molvig is a true, intense and gifted expressionist, and this form of art has always been a Cinderella in Australia…Consequently, Mr Molvig’s reputation has hardly kept pace with his achievement…The fact remains that Jon Molvig is the finest, fiercest, most convinced and convincing expressionist Australia has yet produced.”

James Gleeson, Molvig: The Lost Antipodean, pp.88)

Primordia, 1956-57
Oil and wax on hardboard / 247 x 182.5 x 5.5cm (framed) / Purchased 1969 / Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.


A twilight of a women, 1957
Oil on composition board / 137.2 x 148.6cm / Purchased 1984 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art


Girl in the bush, 1957
Oils on hardboard / 28.5 x 42.5cm / Private collection, Brisbane


Two schoolgirls skipping, 1956
Oils on hardboard / 64.8 x 56.8cm / Private collection, Brisbane.