Iconic works by Christopher Pratt on display at Beaverbrook Art Gallery

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The Bridge, 1981, by Christopher Pratt. This silkscreen is now on display at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton/   (Joe MacDonald/CBC - image credit)
The Bridge, 1981, by Christopher Pratt. This silkscreen is now on display at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton/ (Joe MacDonald/CBC - image credit)

He was a giant.

John Leroux, manager of collections and exhibitions at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, is talking about Christopher Pratt.

The renowned artist from Newfoundland and Labrador, who achieved international acclaim, died on Sunday at the age of 86.

The Beaverbrook gallery has more than 50 works by Christopher Pratt and has mounted a memorial exhibition from their extensive collection.

"He's considered one of the most important artists in Canadian history beginning in the latter half of the 20th century," said Leroux.

Tom Smart, director of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, paid tribute on the gallery's website.

Submitted by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery
Submitted by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery

"His was an intense gaze that constantly searched for resonant visual metaphors of home and which also hinted at the complexity of life, his and ours."

Ned Pratt
Ned Pratt

Pratt attended Mount Allison University, where he met his mentor, the artist Alex Colville. It's also where he met his future first wife, artist Mary (West) Pratt of Fredericton. All three painted in the style of magical realism, creating a feeling of disturbing stillness in their works, many of which have become iconic.

"This magic realist school in Sackville in New Brunswick was absolutely formative, and it stayed with him for the rest of his life when he painted his beloved Newfoundland, Leroux said.

"But he would come here often. He had a lot of time for the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. He was a really strong ally for us and for art in eastern Canada."

Joe MacDonald/CBC
Joe MacDonald/CBC

The gallery has several original paintings by Pratt, along with silkscreen prints.

His work often reflected the landscapes of his Newfoundland and Labrador surroundings, but Leroux said there was also a fascination with architecture, thanks in part to his brother, a well-known St. John's architect.

Pratt had the ability to combine "a technical, hard line rigour with a … poignant sense of longing and nostalgia, often for place."

Joe MacDonald/CBC
Joe MacDonald/CBC

"It's remarkable work," said Leroux.

"And so in honour of him, we hung this memorial exhibition of seven works from our collection that really speak to his love of Newfoundland, but also of this, just the wealth of art that this man made over half a century."

Joe MacDonald/CBC
Joe MacDonald/CBC

"We're so fortunate to have had him here," said Leroux.

"There will always be a Christopher Pratt up for as long as the Beaverbrook Art Gallery exists."

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