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Kevin Connor has painted around 20 self-portraits over the years, several of which have been hung in the Archibald Prize.
‘I just do one whenever I feel like it,’ he says. ‘It’s always interesting to do because it’s the only portrait you can paint objectively. I really believe that, because with others you can’t get out of your mind what the subject will think.’
This one was painted over a fairly long period ‘until I felt my presence was there,’ says Connor. Asked about the colour palette he quips that he might have been ‘in a blue mood. I was wearing jeans and a blue shirt and I had a black hat on. I didn’t want the figure to stand out too much from the background. But these things are pretty intuitive; it’s hard to say why.’
Connor has been a finalist in the Archibald Prize many times over the years and won in 1975 and 1977. He is also represented in this year’s Wynne Prize.
He was born in Sydney in 1932, where he has lived and worked for most of his life aside from periods of extensive travel around Europe, the US and the Middle East. His work concerns the life of the city and its people. He has held 60 solo exhibitions. In 1989 a survey/retrospective exhibition of his work from 1947–88 was held at the Art Gallery of NSW and on tour. There were also survey exhibitions of his Sydney Harbour paintings at Manly Art Gallery and Museum in 1988 and his portraits at Ivan Dougherty Gallery in 1988. In 2006, the AGNSW mounted another major exhibition of his work entitled Sketchbooks, drawings and studies for painting and sculpture.
Connor won the Sulman Prize in 1991 and 1997 and the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 1993 and 2005. He was a Harkness Fellow (1966–68) and a trustee of the AGNSW (1981–87). He is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries and most other major public collections in Australia as well as in private collections here and overseas.