The life of Pro Hart is being celebrated in Mooloolaba, providing a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire rare paintings and raise funds for breast cancer research.
David Hart with his father Pro Hart’s work ‘War Talk’ from the Gallipoli series. Photos: Michaela O’Neill/179083
Which Australian artist would set off explosives in his gallery just to get a feel for the atmosphere of his work?
Pro Hart, of course.
The life of the iconic Australian artist is being celebrated in Mooloolaba, providing a unique opportunity for collectors to acquire rare paintings and raise funds for breast cancer research.
A collection of 40 of the late Pro’s works, including many from his private collection, are being exhibited at the gallery of his son, David Hart.
Included is the rare “War Talk” – part of his most significant series on the fighting at Gallipoli.
David said recreating the sounds and smells of the battlefield inspired his father to create his powerful Gallipoli paintings.
Pro had access to explosives gear from the mine where he worked and was an active member of the local gun club.
“Dad would let off shots of gunpowder while he painted this series as it would help him visualise the scenes,” David said.
“He really immersed himself in his art.”
“War Talk” has a price tag of $95,000 and David said that to his knowledge, it was the only piece of the collection available for purchase.
It is an unusual representation of a battle scene with masked characters, with their nasty eyes and teeth, representing the generals and commanders who sent men off to war but rarely faced the horror themselves.
A large number of the artworks on display will be readily recognisable – even though they have not seen the light of day for almost four decades – as they are original pieces which feature in classic Australian books including Poems by Banjo Patterson.
“These paintings have been sitting in storage for a lifetime, now they’re getting a new lease of life,” David said.
While art lovers will be out in force to grab one of Pro’s pieces, the economic climate is expected to attract investors looking for something more attractive than the stock market.
“Australian art doesn’t go backwards,” David said.
“Australian art continues to rise, unlike shares and property which go up and down like a yo-yo.”
“In recent times Dad’s artwork has enjoyed a very good increase.
“Where are you going to get another one?”
Pro’s paintings became more in demand than usual after his death in 2006 and David said the continuing demand had pushed prices up.
“There’s not a great deal left out in Broken Hill.”
Art enthusiasts can view the exhibition until November 2 at David Hart Galleries in Mooloolaba.