Mike Pratt: Love Songs Dedicated to the Back of Somebody's Head

30 April - 28 May 2016

WORKPLACE is pleased to announce Love Songs Dedicated to the Back of Somebody’s Head - the second solo exhibition of Mike Pratt at Workplace Gateshead.


Pratt’s new paintings occupy a typically duplicitous territory. Pertaining to painting, sculpture, interior design and home décor, these new works transverse various strata of taste and class. Constructed initially from wood and Styrofoam, Pratt’s paintings are thickly coated in layers of casting wax and pigmented archival resin to create seductive semi-opaque marbled glazes that shift the work away from their humble materiality towards a sensuous luxuriousness. Adorned with oversized reproductions of sea shells, bunches of grapes, or cascading arrangements of coloured watering cans, Pratt’s semi-decorative utilitarian forms (those of the vacu-formed plastic garden pond or the decorative fountain) are enlarged and pimped with all the cornocopean barogue excess of a Rubens allegory painting. Hung on vertical steel scaffolding support poles the works reveal both their front and reverse, taking on figurative connotations of both builder and pole dancer.


Pratt’s works maintain echoes of Art that has been rescued from a process of aesthetic cultural assimilation: The curvilinear forms of ‘Modern Art’ appropriated by the once fashionable designers of extravagant 1950s Miami hotels and pools, and endlessly re-appropriated since. Eventually trickling down to the aspirational forms of the garden centre or diy warehouse. His stickily saturated glazed surfaces oscillate between high finish and a scatological methodology; embodying the erotics of disgust through their equal propensity to repulse and entice.

"When I first saw these paintings I thought they where like dried out fountains that once contained liquid but now have become colourful relics with no real purpose. Mike said he wanted to make a bunch of things that looked like they could be mistaken for musical instruments - I guess they do all have a home made folky quality to them, and this makes me think they all produce a particular sound that maybe in some way joins together. Either way - I cant imagine that if they did in fact produce a sound, that it would be anything nice - maybe just a background noise to play on the other end of the phone or in a hotel lobby. Now when I think about them - I enjoyed the colourfulness." Helen Pratt (Mike's Mam), 2016