Michael Bennallack

Vieste by Michael Bennallack
South of Otranto by Michael Bennallack
Roman Campagna by Michael Bennallack
Ballard Down by Michael Bennallack
Across the Lake by Michael Bennallack
Carving out his early career as a successful graphic designer responsible for the origination and illustration of movie posters and record sleeves – something he pursued with much gusto and commercial aplomb for twelve years - Sussex-born (1948) and bred landscape artist, Michael Bennallack Hart had previously completed his studies at London’s Ravensbourne College of Art in 1970, gaining a degree in Art and Design. Later in the 70s and continued through the 1980s, Bennallack Hart was employed in the capacity of an Art Director and Illustrator for advertising agencies, yet in his spare time chose to further his interest in and enhance his knowledge of the personal paintings of landscapes and the capturing of sports scenes. In fact, he managed to balance his career with his moonlighting extremely well, bearing in mind that Bennallack Hart exhibited at the Spectrum Gallery in New York of all locations at the height of his vocational success. It was the artist-to-be’s accumulative triumphs away from his 9 – 5 that afforded him the encouragement and springboard from which to turn to art as a full time means to more than simply a fiscal end.

Bennallack Hart’s preferred medium in which he employs his artistic gift is pastels, which arguably seeks more demands on an artist than the administering of oils, acrylics and watercolours according to the purists, especially so when working on an unconventionally large scale as Bennallack Hart does. From his base in Richmond, Surrey, the accomplished artist is celebrated by his followers and art collectors for what they refer to as Bennallack Hart’s evocation of atmosphere, promotion of a certain romanticism through his signature works and overall authority of composition. Many feel that the artist continues the tradition of the romantic landscape painters of the nineteenth century, like Constable, Turner and Landseer, yet his modern-day translation and visual interpretation is set within an unswerving contemporary frame, depicting an unequivocally original sense of arrangement, quality and approach to the subject. Bennallack Hart stresses that he doesn’t willingly compare himself to the aforementioned artistic greats by any stretch of the imagination, however believes that he is to some extent tasked with upholding the tradition mapped out by those found at the vanguard of that movement a couple of centuries before.

Bennallack Hart’s 2004 exhibition of landscapes showcased at London’s Medici Gallery – his second solo outing as such – was inspired by, and came about by the visiting of – artistic sojourns to Venice, Rome and the Italian Lakes, and met with much success at the time. Describing how the settings that he visited (and visually documented) had been well trodden by earlier generations of British artists, the way Bennallack Hart understand it is this. Having experienced great pleasure standing on the same spots as revered artists of the old guard had done seasons past, looking out on the self same vistas and panoramas that had so influenced them, he himself as a contemporary landscape artist is simply re-imagining what’s gone before. In essence, Bennallack Hart points out, quite rightly, that little has changed since the 18th and 19th Centuries, noting the Venetian lagoon as a point in question.

With his work hanging in both corporate and private collector’s homes, office and public spaces across Europe, Australia and North America, Bennallack Hart as you might expect has a string of industry and peer-inspired accolades to his name, including the 1985 Gold Clio Award presented to him in New York, the Creative Circle Bronze Award, handed to him in London in 1989 and as nominated by the Pastel Society again in the UK’s capital city in 1995, the Andrew Herring Prize to name just a handful. Bennallack Hart has put on a number of one-man shows in London since the late 1990s and has overseen various mainstream public stagings of his individual compositions and collections at the Royal Academy and across the Atlantic in both New York and San Francisco.

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