New York

Christopher Pratt

Marlborough | Midtown

The subject of Christopher Pratt’s lithographs and oils on board is the brief Newfoundland summer, rendered, like the work of some of his fellow Canadians, with an almost painful obsessiveness (brushstrokes are contaminations that must be eliminated). Like some hard-edge Minimalist work, most of Pratt’s paintings, and all of his best ones, could be described in terms of the linear dimensions of a few simple geometric shapes and those shades of blue, gray and buff that drawing paper comes in. He chooses to paint those things around him that obey the discipline of the straight edge: architecture and the horizon. Sometimes a triangle or rectangle will be occupied by Pratt’s graphic code for gentle, unthreatening, summertime water—the only area of texture in a composition that is at the same time strictly realistic and highly abstract. These are perfect paintings for people who want to be modern, but don’t like modern art.

He shows some figure drawings that are competent, plodding renditions in which no 19th-century drawing master could find an anatomical distortion or graphic inconsistency to fault. But these pictures are obviously not his passion. His passion is recording with neoclassical precision the pale light of Newfoundland’s summer in paintings that seem highly personal and, at the same time, completely anonymous.

Ross Skoggard