March 27, 2006

Australian painter Pro Hart dies in outback

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Eccentric Australian outback painter Pro
Hart died on Tuesday in his beloved mining town of Broken Hill
where he was born and lived, painting sweeping landscapes by
layering and scratching paint onto canvas.

Hart, 77, a Broken Hill miner who became a self-taught,
internationally acclaimed artist, died after battling motor
neurone disease.

His son, Kym Hart, told reporters his father had not been
able to lift a brush since Christmas.

"The appalling thing about this horrible disease was that
his mind was sharp as a tack. Not being able to move his hands
must have been just so frustrating for him," he said.

Hart's outback landscapes, created mainly in oils and
acrylics using not just a paint brush but any tool, even a
cannon, have been exhibited all over the world, with paintings
held in the U.S. White House and by the British royal family.

But Hart was never fully accepted by Australia's artistic
world. His paintings are not in the National Art Gallery.

"If you don't fit in their groove, they don't want to know
you," Hart once said of the Australian art community.

Hart gained his widest recognition in Australia when he
featured in a television carpet advertisement in which he
painted the carpet with spaghetti, milk and other foods.