Kevin Connor is one of Australia's best known draughtsmen and contemporary painters of the urban environment. His bold and expressive images of city streets and their inhabitants have been part of the visual vocabulary of Sydney since the early 1960s. He has won the Archibald and the Sulman Prize twice and is the only artist to have won the Dobell Prize for Drawing twice.
Sketchbooks are the intimate diary of a visual artist. This exhibition includes 100 of Kevin Connor's sketchbooks together with a selection of drawings, gouaches, paintings and sculptures that result from them. Seeing them together provides a wonderful insight into Connor's working processes and thinking and a greater appreciation of his work as a whole.
I could live without painting and making sculptures but I could not live without drawing. Drawing is the very basis of everything. I could happily take my sketchbook and draw for the rest of my life and show nobody. - Kevin Connor
Kevin Connor's sketchbook-drawings are not as well known as his other larger drawings and gouaches, yet they are an integral part of his practice. In them are his almost daily observations of people on the street, in cafes, and at railway stations - or wherever we live, work and congregate. He draws swiftly and un-selfconsciously, mostly in pen and black ink.
Connor has travelled extensively in Europe, America and the Middle East since the 1950s, experiences he has drawn upon for paintings and numerous works on paper. Paris and London in particular feature in the works included in this exhibition - Gare du Nord, London's National Gallery and Tavistock Square are favourite haunts, as is the Paris Metro.
The sketchbook he prefers is one that is small enough to hold in one hand, though he usually draws across both pages when it is open. His paintings are big, developing his images in charcoal or gouache on large sheets of paper beforehand. Throughout, there remains a close association, between his sketchbook-drawings and his gouaches, large drawings and paintings. The loose pages of a number of Connor's sketchbooks will be displayed pinned on the gallery walls, to provide a panoramic feast of small drawings, wallpaper-style, emphasizing the importance that drawing from observation in sketchbooks has for him.
A remarkable book is being published by the Gallery to accompany the exhibition with a selection of 80 of Kevin Connor's sketchbook-drawings reproduced actual size. Included is a transcript of the artist talking about drawing to Hendrik Kolenberg, senior curator of Australian prints, drawings and watercolours at the Gallery and curator of this exhibition.
Kevin Connor: sketchbooks, drawings and studies