Mike Pratt: Good Mourning Bell: WORKPLACE GATESHEAD

15 January - 12 February 2011

Pratt's work confronts the established conventions of painting, through an immediate and unashamedly direct indulgence in painting as an activity in its own right, combined with an ethically questionable position of borrowing, remaking and 'wrongful' appropriation. Authenticity, style and the cycle of assimilation that exists both within contemporary art and popular culture are central concerns in Pratt's work. Contemporary artists
such as Christopher Wool and Paul McCarthy as well as 20th Century artists who reshaped the process of Art such as Basquiat, Polke and Warhol, all become the fodder for Pratt's lexicon. However, rather than paying homage to his forerunners Pratt borrows and steals, walking a fine line between mimicry and imitation. Through this method of sampling and re-mastering Pratt combines stylistic quotation with deadpan observation and dumb
mark making, layering and obliterating his paintings until work is deemed at an end, yet never resolved.

 

"The works engage with frank and simple imagery, they stand as a remark; there is nothing sentimental or 'worldly', just a curiosity into the processes... Each action obliterates the last until the 'right' gesture has the final say. I have no problem recycling the ideas of others; I see this as my viewpoint - to select and covet from the existing to make the new. I see everything as a physical structure; this in itself demands reasoning, a competence to relate not only to its environment but to itself. The idea that a piece of work becomes self-aware and insecure..."

 

Mike Pratt, 2010

 

Pratt's new large-scale works combine painting with large format screen prints taken from close up detail sections of an earlier painting. The extracted details are shifted and repeated creating a blurring of half tones, a digitized and interrupted suggestion of a painterly background. These works are complex and uncertain statements of contradiction and affirmation, they become neurotically charged phrases that 'confess all' whilst
at the same time disguising and camouflaging themselves. Pratt's work is a head-on collision with the history of the present. The satire in his work plays like relentless canned laughter to the intuitive handling of the material and the romantic allusions of painting, striking a careful and sophisticated balance that takes you on an invigorating new journey through a seemingly familiar territory.