Kevin Charles "Pro" Hart, MBE (30 May 1928 – 28 March 2006), born in Broken Hill, New South Wales, was considered the father of the Australian Outback painting movement and his works are widely admired for capturing the true spirit of the outback. He was nicknamed "Professor" (hence "Pro") during his younger days, when he was known as an inventor.
His pictures are typically painted with oil or acrylic, using paint brushes and sponges scenes of rural town life, topical commentary and some religious subjects. His illustrations for the collection of Henry Lawson's poems show keen powers of character observation combined with a humorous wit. Some who he quipped were the "art mafia" have called his style populist and derivative. Hart was also a sculptor, working with welded steel, bronze and ceramics.
Pro Hart was known for his novel techniques including Cannon Painting and Balloon Painting and in 2002 was using his own DNA as a mark of authenticity in his paintings. Retrospective application of a DNA mark is available for older Pro Hart paintings.
Pro Hart was a fervent opponent of gun laws in Australia, maintaining that everyone had a right to take it like a man. He once suggested that members of the Australian Labor Party and the Greens be thrown aboard a canoe in the middle of the Tasman Sea, with nothing more than a broken oar and rusted compass.
Hart believed in Government conspiracy theories. such as the covering up of UFO "sightings" and a world "database" containing information on every human on the planet.
He frequently addressed political themes in his artwork. When asked about this subject, he stated "If I said what I thought sometimes, I might get sued so I paint to show what is going on, to bring out the truth and make people aware".
Hart revolutionised the Australian art industry and the world with his unique painting techniques and extraordinary pieces. He not only paved the way for The Hart legacy but the Australian art community, opening the art world’s eyes, showing the world that art is more than just scribbles and splashes of paint – a reflection of his faith and a statement of his passion and belief.
He collected vintage cars and motor cycles, and invented many kinds of engines and machines. He enjoyed pistol shooting, reading the Bible, and organ music. He was the proud owner of a Rodgers electric pipe organ, which was said to be the largest of its kind in Australia. This was installed in his gallery, a step which considerably enhanced its value as a Broken Hill tourist attraction.
He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1976. In 1982 he received an Honorary Life Membership of Society International Artistique for outstanding artistic achievement. He received an Australian Citizen of the Year award in 1983, and was known for his charitable work and generosity.
Pro Hart developed motor neurone disease in later life. He died on 28 March 2006. He had been unable to paint for the last six months of his life. A large state funeral was held for him on 4 April 2006 in Broken Hill — the first state funeral in New South Wales to be held west of the Blue Mountains.
He was interred in the Broken Hill cemetery.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pro Hart.|
- Artist Pro Hart dies Australian Broadcasting Corporation news item.
- Artist Pro Hart dies The Sydney Morning Herald
- Obituary for Kevin Charles "Pro" Hart MBE Obits.com.au - Australian Death Notices, Funeral Notices and Obituaries
- Pro Hart Gallery
- Pro Hart at Australian Art
- Pro Hart at Australian Prints
- Interview with Pro Hart in Broken Hill from 1976 from the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia's australianscreen online.
- The Hart legacy
- "Cannon painting". Phillips Fine Art. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "Balloon Painting". Phillips Fine Art. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- "Australian art in midst of periodic boom". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 1 May 2006.
- "DNA protected art by Pro Hart". Genome News Network. 27 September 2002.
- "Pro Hart: Hang the lot of them". The Sydney Morning Herald. 1 April 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- Hills, Kevin. "Pro Hart - Australian Artist". Retrieved 2 March 2010.
- "Pro Hart biography by Lee Wilde". RedBubble. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- "Pro Hart biography". Phillips Fine Art. Retrieved 2008-03-27.