Mychael Barratt known for his superbly executed witty etchings, this Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter/Printmakers, who is also a commissioned artist for Shakespear’s Globe Theatre, also creates paintings for specific exhibitions. He is a storyteller in the long tradition of narrative artists that include the two that he finds especially inspirational: Chagall and Hogarth.
Anita Klein, the Society’s President, describes Barratt’s paintings as “Gentle and lyrical. His etchings display a rare technical competence. So accomplished is Mychael as a printmaker, that he uses complicated techniques with a lightness of touch that completely disguises any complexity, and looks both fresh and spontaneous.”
The motivation behind Barratt’s paintings and prints is quite different. “Through my etchings I am able to communicate to a large audience – prints are accessible to all – while with the paintings I can allow myself to be much more personal.”
He is following an historic tradition.
Printmaking originated in Europe during the 15th century, but it was not regarded as an
art form until Dürer innovated the concept of the artist as print-maker. He realised that unlike paintings commissioned by elite clients, his engravings were affordable and available to a huge, appreciative public.
Born in Canada, Mychael Barratt has a passion for drawing, which “sadly lots of artists no longer consider crucial”. While still a student, he visited London in 1984, fell deeply in love with it and stayed. Where others saw drabness, he saw beauty, wonderful roof tops and skylines, curious old buildings, sudden splashes of colour, delightful parks and quirky inhabitants with a brilliant sense of humour.
That humour, reflected in Barratt’s work may initially appear to be frivolous; but his intentions are serious. We are inundated with grim news every day, so antidotes to depression are vital. “I want viewers to feel uplifted” he says, “To feel a renewed enthusiasm for all the things that I love and that inspire me: art history, theatre, literature and London with its great cast of inhabitants.”
His characters cross the threshold of the picture plane; like performers on a stage they involve the audience. Having played to audiences in over 35 galleries in the UK, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Cyprus, they all agree: Mychael Barratt communicates fluently in the languages of etching inks and oil paint.
Although the colours are somewhat subdued, “The motivation behind the painting and prints are quite different” explains Barratt “With the etchings there is a desire to communicate to a large audience; with the paintings I allow myself to be much more personal.”