O’Hern describes with a strange fondness those lost parts of suburbia where weeds choke unpopular infrastructure. Blackberries, hemlock, willows—those stranglers of drains, signposts and rubbish—poisonous and picturesque foxgloves, peering over smashed glass and cokes cans and stolen bikes. His monster drawings evolve the same way, exploding across the paper rhizomatically, as if roots direct routes in some kind of cell-splitting, replicating, cloning, swarming, breeding…

 

…but O’Hern’s monsters are not monstrous. The monstrous, like the abject, includes in its own expression the desire by others to cast it out, to reject or to escape it. O’Hern’s monsters are not sinister, they’re comical: full of fractured smiles that are full of fractal tracks of sharp teeth; thousands of wall eyes, they look like they’re laughing. But they’re not quite hysterical either, the artist’s command of his medium is too convincing; there is no loss of control.

 

Perhaps it is the artist’s work to tame the monstrous? Like the child in a Patrick White novel who both fears and reveres a cascading monstera deliciosa; his every humiliation is caught in the thousand eyes of his own delicious monster.

 
This approach has seen his work appear in solo and group exhibitions in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Hobart, and on the front of publications. He’s done residences in Hobart, Paris, and even Shan Xi, a traditional part of rural China, where he was given the title of Ghost Master by the locals. To this day he’s still a little unsure what this means, but assumes it’s a compliment.