Robert Hannaford


While Robert Hannaford is well known for his portraiture – he’s a frequent Archibald finalist – it’s only part of the picture. His oeuvre also includes sculptures, landscapes, still-lifes and nudes. With two exhibitions running simultaneously at the Hill Smith Gallery and the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) the full gamut is covered.

“Throughout my career I have focused on painting generally. I have always painted the landscape, figures, still-lifes, everything with equal enthusiasm,” Hannaford says.

At the AGSA the emphasis will be on portraits, figurative works and drawings dating right back to the beginning of his career (spanning some 50 years) while the works at Hill Smith are recent works and cover a wider variety of subject matter including landscapes and still life.

Self taught, Hannaford is extremely disciplined in his practice and approaches his work with a deep intensity and authenticity, something which he developed early in his career. It’s this discipline that has resulted in the highly regarded work he produces.

In 2007 Hannaford painted a confronting self-portrait during his cancer treatment, choosing to look squarely at the subject with its trauma and invasiveness, as just one of the “manifestations of life.” Hannaford explains, “I have depicted, birth, life, death, old age and infirmity. I take every opportunity to depict aspects of life and death and growing and diminishing. It’s all part of understanding the life we live.”

Hannaford’s subject matter is extremely varied and that’s because he treats everything around him as a subject. “I paint and draw everything that interests me in my world. That can range from intimate drawings, to long studies to quick atmospheric paintings. Whatever takes my interest,” he says. “That’s what my work has always been about and I am not likely to change now.”

Robert Hannaford
Art Gallery of South Australia
2 July – 9 October

Hill Smith Gallery
9 July – 24 July

Preview Words by Jane Llewellyn