Jane Scott, Director of the Monash Gallery of Art (MGA) and curator of the travelling exhibition, Pro Hart: Retrospective, pays tribute to one of Australia's most popular contemporary artists, Pro Hart who died today aged 77.
"We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Pro Hart has passed away at his Broken Hill home this morning after battling motor neurone disease.
"Self-taught and unashamedly Australian, Pro Hart produced some of the Nation's most recognisable images. His love affair with colour, paint and its application endeared him to audiences around the world.
"Pro's uncompromising and often unorthodox political views mirrored his non-conformism in his art practice and his approach to the art world. At a time when so many reputations are the result of spin, Pro Hart was an artist of genuine conviction and character.
"For Pro, painting was like inventing. He experimented with media and invented different techniques of applying paint. He used any tool or method to achieve the desired outcome for his work. Working mostly in oils and acrylics, he drew upon techniques of layering, chiaroscuro, glazing, scumb scratching and alla prima. He painted on many surfaces including aeroplanes; hot-air balloons; boomerangs; computers; cricket bats; airships; footballs; motorcycles; overalls; singer Peter Allen's piano; pipe organs; refrigerators; steam shovels; and on the front covers of Gideon Bibles. He also painted several cars and was a sculptor working with welded steel, bronze and ceramics.
"His subjects were uniquely Australian with eccentricities often being recorded in his narratives. Pro's paintings were informed by his accumulated life experiences, from his childhood living in the bush, to working and living in the mining town of Broken Hill. Much of his figurative work flourished with human activity and was the result of Pro's keen observation of the minutia of everyday life in the outback town of Broken Hill. Subjects included country race meetings, picnics, weddings and street scenes. The art of Pro Hart was also informed by deep religious beliefs and non-conformist political views.
"Pro's fondness for inventing different techniques of applying paint was perhaps best demonstrated through his performance pieces or 'happenings' in which he used canons and shanghais to fire paint at canvasses. The most famous of these 'art expressions' was the TV commercial for Dupont Stainmaster Carpet in which Pro created a large image of a dragonfly by throwing, squashing and firing food on a carpet floor. Regardless of its form, Pro Hart's art was created through a deep desire to communicate visually with as many people as possible," Ms Scott said.
After two years on the road and 11 venues across Australia, the MGA touring exhibition, Pro Hart: Retrospective, is yet to stop at four venues in Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. This unique exhibition showcases Hart's prolific career and features 60 paintings, etchings and sculptures. The work is drawn from Pro Hart's private collection and has been curated by Jane Scott, Director of the MGA.
Remaining tour dates for Pro Hart: Retrospective, a Monash Gallery of Art touring exhibition:
- 22 April - 4 June 2006: GOLD COAST CITY ART GALLERY, Tel: 07 55816520
- 17 June - 28 July 2006: ROCKHAMPTON REGIONAL GALLERY, Tel: 07 49368248
- 25 August - 24 September 2006: WANGARATTA EXHIBITIONS GALLERY, Tel: 03 5722 0865
- 13 October - 26 November 2006: RIDDOCH ART GALLERY SOUTH AUSTRALIA, Tel: 08 8723 9566