Andrew Mackenzie: The Opposite Shore

river painting 8 crop

The &Gallery, Edinburgh
5-30 October 2019

Its always advantageous to visit an exhibition at the opening event as there is usually an opportunity to meet the artist. Mackenzie was there to meet and greet along with gallerist Avril Nicol and her staff. The venue is such an expansive white space and with the typical mid grey used on art school floors it really sets off the paintings and pastel work superbly. Mackenzie understands the delicate relationship between trees and their importance in flood defence. Three of his works are called just that ‘Flood Wall 1 ‘Yellow’ , ‘Flood Wall 2’ (Orange) and ‘Flood Wall 3’ (Magenta) which are all oil paint on plywood. His work is meticulous. He systematically layers up his paintings and experience lets him know when each painting is complete. He just knows instinctively when its finished.

Opposite Shore

Walking around the gallery space you are hit with a quiet confidence that exudes from his practice. His acute sense of colour knowledge is apparent in all his works. The use of complimentary colours in ‘Opposite Shore’ (Resevoir 2) where the trees pulse against the olive green background stayed in my minds eye well beyond the experience of standing viewing it. I loved it ! The incongruous cadmium red trees danced on my retinas and brought a sense of joy to me. The colour theory was not lost on me. I could easily relate to all his colour choices and enjoyed his playful attitude while tackling a subject that is very serious and alarmingly relevant to our planets survival.

Flood Wall 1
Flood Wall

What’s interesting here is the linen like texture that permeates all his paintings. I spoke with him at length listening to his techniques which seem basic but produce such complex results due to his time investment . These are not quick paintings to make. Mackenzie’s unedited paintings include the detritus. Its up to the viewer to explore the negative space and there is an ambiguety that allows the viewer to feel that they are not being dictated to .’ Verge Revisited ‘ explores the regeneration of our woodlands.The relationship between wood and water is a symbiotic one and the execution of snow (water) in this largest painting was painstakingly painted in short pastel blue lines, each line having to be painted twice to pack the visual punch it carries giving an appliqué texture that makes you look twice to check that it isn’t mixed media.

Clare Crines

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