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Harley Oliver: Hitters, Grapplers and Strongmen

There's a story in each of these portraits of fighters, underdogs and champions.

“I found an old photo of boxer Kid Lavigne,” says artist Harley Oliver. “In 1894 he killed a man in the ring. By beating him to death, he took on that man’s title – US Lightweight Champion. I looked again at the photo . There’s none of that story in his face. I thought I’d try and expand that image as a portrait on canvas.”

That idea developed into the series Hitters, Grapplers and Strongmen, 10 paintings showing at the Stanley Street Gallery.

Strongmen like Georg Lurich are there too.

“A huge man, still a legend in Estonia. Indestructible as a wrestler, he got caught up in fighting during the Russian revolution. He survived that but died a few months later from Typhoid.”

Two Australians are in the series: Max Carlos , who was tipped to win a medal in the ’56 Olympics and Max Stuart, an Aboriginal tent boxer who was arrested for the brutal murder of a 9 year old girl from Ceduna. Even though he spoke hardly a word of English, the police produced a detailed confession. He maintained he was given a beating by police. Sentenced to hang , his case caused great public concern. Led by Rupert Murdoch, then publisher of the Adelaide Times the court was persuaded to commute the sentence to life in prison.

There’s a story in each of these portraits of fighters, underdogs and champions.

Part of Art Walk, Thursday 15 March, 6pm to 8pm.



Wednesdays to Fridays, 11am to 6pm
Saturdays, 11am to 5pm

Wednesday 28 February to Saturday 24 March 2018



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