Kevin Charles "Pro" Hart, MBE (30 May 1928 – 28 March 2006), was an Australian artist, born in Broken Hill, New South Wales, who 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 grew up on his family's sheep farm in Menindee, New South Wales and 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, and depict 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 n obvious wit. 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.
For most of his career Hart was dismissed by many critics as a mere showman, with his art often judged as populist and derivative, and not good enough for serious critical attention. Barry Pearce, the head curator of Australian art at the Art Gallery of NSW said that comparing Hart with the artists whose work normally hangs in the gallery was "rather like Slim Dusty being compared to Mozart". Hart considered his critics to be a part of the "art mafia" and noted that he achieved his success without any help from the arts establishment.
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".
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.
- Meacham, Steve (2006-04-01). "Pro Hart: hang the lot of them". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
- 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.