Orange Regional Gallery is developing a major survey exhibition of the figurative works of celebrated artist Kevin Connor.
People in the Forever One Day will be held at the gallery from September 29 to November 25. Connor, now in his mid-eighties, is one of only two living artists featured in the original Mary Turner Collection.
This portrait photograph, taken recently by Gary Grealy, captures the artist’s gentle intensity and insightful gaze.
Born in 1932 in Sydney, Connor has lived and worked for most of his life in Sydney and his work has been largely concerned with the life of the city and its people.
He has held an astonishing 65 solo exhibitions and his work is held in all state galleries and in the National Gallery.
He has won the Archibald Prize twice, in 1975 and 1977 as well as the Sulman prize in 1991 and again in 1997. He is also renowned for his expressive and insightful drawings having won the Dobell Prize for drawing at the Art Gallery of New South Wales twice, in 1993 and again in 2005.
People in the Forever One Day will feature a selection of Connor’s large-scale canvases, alongside his drawings including multiple sketchbook drawings and five bronzes. Together they provide an insight into the extraordinary vision and daily observations of one of our most significant artists.
One of the highlights of the exhibition will be a monumental wall containing grids of 600 sketchbook drawings.
I had the privilege of sitting with Connor recently at a table at Bill and Toni’s Italian Restaurant in Darlinghurst where he worked away on his daily drawings of people as they gathered, had animated conversations, and then dispersed.
With a single pen, he worked freely and spontaneously over the page. I was amazed to see how a single drawing was an amalgamation of a series of events.
As a new person entered the restaurant, so they entered the drawing, which contained people who had already left. In this way, Connor has returned to the same place, year after year and produced hundreds of drawings which are fresh and alive.
They add up to one of the most remarkable bodies of work produced in the history of Australian art.