“My work has always been concerned with opposites, whether in regard to medium, imagery, or application, in an attempt to confess a personal narrative, versus a public system of signs always in potential flux.” Fiona Mackay
About the artist
One can approach the work by Fiona Mackay best by envisioning a possible but not necessarily connected sequence of ‘events with painterly means’. These undertakings evolve in the realm of an exhibition or in relation to a given place or space. The beginnings lie between personal narration and the commonly used sign-systems or associative terms, words, and objects as ‘roots’. In a blunt gesture, without a sketch but intuitively Mackay applies directly onto the canvas individual cycles between figuration and abstraction.
The artist develops syntactic bodies of work that reverberate in the exhibition space like sound waves – being radically open to subjective perception. The works, intense and luminescent, reveal an uncommon marriage of solidity and fluidity, monumentality and domesticity, the earnest and the whimsical, achieving a maximum impact with limited means.
Her heterogeneous images purposefully disrupt the viewers’, and artists’ own, expectations of painting, contradicting or totally evading any fixed meaning to instead interrogate denigrated aesthetic styles, and embrace or distort notions of cliché, bad taste, and naivety. Mackay’s paintings are perhaps most accurately understood as self-conscious critiques of the form, playfully experimenting with gestural mark marking and wordplay to create slippages between her colloquial titles and the images they purportedly describe. This approach lends Mackay’s paintings a performative quality, articulating abstract emotions or ideas with immediacy and urge.
“She recently began painting on paper, a humble and light- weight medium, in a bid to “showcase an artist’s potential to be a magician”, manipulating this everyday material to reach “ground zero” of an idea and transform her painting into a “sensual, tactile, sensuous, emotional experience.” Amy Budd, 2019