This painting shows two salmon fillets lying on sky-blue plastic wrap. The ribbed flesh of the fish is reproduced with an abundance of detail and gleams in vivid tones of red and orange.

Mary Pratt

(b. Fredericton 1935)

 

Split Grilse

1979

Oil on Masonite

56.1 x 64 cm

Gifted of ICI Canada Inc., 1995

McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1995.19.44

© Mary Prat


The subject of Split Grilse is a young salmon caught near Mary Pratt’s home and filleted by her daughter. The fillets are depicted with great precision. The handling of light and the choice of colours lend them a sensual and symbolic dimension. Pratt transforms a routine task like preparing food into a still life that evokes both life and death. The convergence of her artistic practice and her stay-at-home-mom pursuits makes this painting autobiographical while placing it firmly in the history of Canadian feminist art.


Mary Pratt grew up and began her career as an artist in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Later, she settled in a Newfoundland village with her husband, the painter Christopher Pratt (b. 1935), and their four children. Mary Pratt has painted landscapes, nudes, portraits and interior scenes, but her practice is defined primarily by radiant, meticulously observed still lifes. She uses a camera to capture quotidian objects bathed in ambient light and later reinterprets them in paint, in the Photorealist manner.

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