Back to Front – Kevin Connor 2006
oil on linen
183cm x 213cm
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Archibald Prize 2006 Finalist

Kevin Connor is a major Australian artist who has been exhibiting since 1952. He has won the Archibald Prize twice with portraits of Sir Frank Kitto in 1975 and sculptor Robert Klippel in 1977.  Danelle Bergstrom first met Connor when she was a student at the Alexander Mackie College. She has a great appreciation for his work and has felt he would always make a most interesting subject.

“He is a gentle man and a gentleman. Quietly spoken with moderate unhurried gestures. In a funny way he’s almost the antithesis of the expressive way he uses paint and the vigorous marks he makes on the canvas – though as Edmund [Capon] says in Connor’s book, ‘there is no aggression in his vigorous often spectacular brushwork only feeling and expression.”

Time is an important aspect, and Kevin was very generous with his. It allows both of us to feel more relaxed as we get to know one another.
When Bergstrom first met with Connor in a café close to his studio she focused intently on his face. “Painting a portrait gives you a licence to stare,” ‘During our many sittings in both his studio and mine, initially I would make dozens of sketches, a few smaller painting studies and took snaps while we chatted.” “…obsessively searching, building an understanding of structure, movement and surface qualities while developing the concept.”

This portrait focuses on Kevin as an observer, one who studies the world.” says Bergstrom. “In the first panel, full length viewed from behind, … he is, anonymous, ….staring at what could be a window or the beginning of a painting or a white canvas. The second panel … you become the subject of his observation. 

I often use more than one canvas to create a time sequence.” She used multiple images in portraits of Margaret Olley and Franco Belgiorno-Nettis hung in the Archibald Prize in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Artist Statement