I love rediscovering artists I had forgotten about! While visiting my friend in Toronto, I picked up a book on the Canadian painter, Mary Pratt.
Mary Pratt and her husband were at art school together in the 1950s in New Brunswick. She was told by one of her instructors that if two artists were married that only one could become successful and that would be her husband (Christopher Pratt who did become successful). Why couldn’t she just understand that and stay home and raise her children and take care of their home. She did just that but never stopped painting, becoming successful in her own right.
So it makes sense that her work is depictions of everyday life and everyday ritual. Her vision is subversive, as the domestic world becomes both beautiful and dark, gorgeous and brutal through her eyes. It is this tension that makes them so powerful.
Now at 78 there has been a 50 year retrospective of her paintings touring Canada. Below is a description of her work from this exhibition:
‘Mary Pratt’s time is not dictated by clocks, but is measured instead by daily ritual. whether preparing a meal or observing the beauty of an unmade bed her paintings represent a lifetime of looking closely, an intimation of the brief, abounding pause before one must turn and continue. Her concentrated observation provides an illumination of everyday life, describing not only a reality close at hand but also aspects of life that lie hidden. For the viewer Pratt’s imagery is a powerful reminder of the rich and complex feelings that hover around the mundane.