Pro Hart auction paintings convey the very essence of Australian life
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 16th July, 2014
Kevin Charles (Pro) Hart is probably best remembered for his outrageous Stainmaster advertisements, where he was busy creating works of art from food on carpet by sliding around on his stomach on the floor before an enterprising female cleaner vacuumed up the creation without leaving a trace.
However, Pro Hart was much more than an advertising stunt. Born in Broken Hill in 1928, this prolific artist created and sold thousands of works during his lifetime and is possibly one of the most recognisable painters of his day.
It is interesting that, eight years after his death, Pro Hart still raises the passions of those interested in Australian art, despite the fact that his critical legacy is not as positive as some of his contemporaries and few public collections hold his works.
Collectors will be given the opportunity to show their regard for this Australian icon and his works when Leonard Joel auctions paintings from his Broken Hill estate from 6.30 pm Tuesday July 22 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra.
There are 173 of his paintings up for auction ranging in subject matter from one of his favourite topics “The Races” to a series on “Mines & Miners” (he worked in the Broken Hill mines for 15 years) to “Outback Life”, “Masks”, “Figures & Portraits”, “Cities and Beaches Around Australia and the World”, “Still Life, Flowers & Insects” and “Abstraction & Action Painting”.
Each painting bears his distinctive style and is a great opportunity for collectors to obtain a small piece of Australian life as Pro Hart saw it.
Country races always fascinated Hart because, in outback Australia, the picnic event was always far more than a simple sporting occasion.
For small communities, it was invariably the most important day of the year – separated as they were by hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads.
Picnic races bring together young and old, prosperous cocky farmers and battling miners, who will drink, bet and yarn together on the one day of the year.
The horses and the racing are secondary to the social side, and Pro Hart made this abundantly clear in almost all of the countless race day pictures he painted over a 50-year period.
While Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly helmet is probably the most recognisable motif in Australian art, Hart’s series on masks was an attempt to disguise the protagonists in his underground dramas so he would not be sued.
Nevertheless, they were his own invention and were an effective method of creating the air of menace that haunts so many of his mining subjects.
Although he spent the first 10 years of his life as a professional artist close to Broken Hill, as Hart became more famous he travelled widely throughout Australia and then overseas.
As a result, he began to paint Australian beaches and headlands and, later as his appeal overseas widened, international subjects – many based on historical events.