Mary Pratt, one of Canada’s leading photorealist painters, has become one of our country’s most distinguished artists. She brings a sharply focused, contemporary lens to deceptively simple subject matter, demonstrating sophisticated skill rooted firmly in the history of painting. Nuance of tone, angle and choice of perspective leave the viewers of Mary Pratt’s images with a sense of wonder and, sometimes, unease. Mary Pratt’s work reveals the breath of emotion, technique and maturity brought to her practice. This exhibition, the first in a public institution since 2004, offered visitors a rare opportunity to view the range, subtlety and power of this much-celebrated artist’s work.
The exhibition is not a retrospective in the customary sense of the word. Concentrating on Pratt’s oils and mixed media paintings, the exhibition juxtaposed more than sixty works from different times in Pratt’s career. It mirrorred the the artist’s own approach to her subject—as an interwoven conversation of themes. Despite describing herself as “consistently inconsistent,” Pratt’s enduring preoccupations include daily rituals and the act of making ready. Pratt dwells on her surroundings, allowing a sideways autobiography through the objects and individuals that encompass her.
For the first time in her exhibition history, Pratt was present in the gallery through her words as well as images. The artist’s own comments accompanied each work through print, audio and video features. This exhibition’s national tour allowed visitors across the country to view widely recognized as well as rarely seen works from the past five decades, gathered from private and public collections.
The Mary Pratt exhibition is a project by The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, St. John’s,NL, and The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, NS, with support from the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage, Museums Assistance Program, and also from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Curated by Mireille Eagan, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Rooms; Sarah Fillmore, Chief Curator, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and; Caroline Stone, Curator of Collections, The Rooms.