In Four figures, Stanley Street, Kevin Connor focused on the dynamics of a group of men sitting on a park bench. The figures are physically close to each other and yet have no eye contact, reflecting the way people in urban society can live within close proximity to each other yet remain isolated. They are larger than life in the way close-ups of characters appear ‘larger than life’ on screen. They stare into space seeming to question – or ponder about – the world and their existence in it.
Connor has painted many expressive figurative paintings which have an immense power and intensity, and which convey the humanity of his subjects. His drawings and sketchbook studies are central to all he produces and form the departure point from which his paintings emerge. He writes:
Drawing a lot around the city …
Out of drawing I paint gouaches on paper. With a bit of luck one or two of these are acceptable.
Start looking at a big canvas, 196 x 242 cm.
Go out and have coffee, read a bit, thinking.
Thinking, into fear. Thinking, into tiredness. Start.
Taking a good drawing or gouache, start drawing in charcoal on the canvas. A little thin paint.
Next day, a tentative overpaint. Sitting, looking, thinking, working.
Put it in the racks, hang on to it for a month or so.
Do a bit more work, then cut it up and bin it.
Some time on, one morning the angels sing.
I paint two large canvases in the day. One the next morning, too. All just right. (Four figures, Stanley Street is one of these.)
Kevin Connor (2002) and Anne Gray
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002