Kate MacKenzie is a Havelock North based artist who creates works primarily in painting with a focus on the figure. While portraiture is often the start point for her works, a process of fragmentation leads to paintings that move beyond just representation, toward an exploration of psychology and sociology. The figures are often accompanied by symbols and motifs found in nature, grounding the figures in the artist's unique semi-surreal world.
Working in oil paint, both with a brush and a palette knife, MacKenzie applies paint liberally in jagged strokes, creating textured and dynamic surfaces. The act of breaking down and building up the figure is not just an intriguing painting technique, but these compositional 'shifts' are also a metaphor for the forces acting on us all in society- be it political, environmental or social. The figures embody a sense of strength and inner awareness in the face of external shifts and change. As the artist describes: "with an unwavering gaze, the figures show strength of character and depth of wisdom...capable of rebuilding in the face of adversity."
While painting is a recourrent feature in her practise, curiousity pulls the artist to explore other media. This has included explorations in wearable arts, furniture design and mixed media wall sculpture. One such adjacent series is the artists' Constructed Portrait series which involves sewing layers of tulle fabric to create a figure or the construction of a portrait with cable ties. The process achieves a holographic quality that gives the human face a depth that cannot be achieved with paint. These mixed media works come to inform her oil painting practise.
MacKenzie has experienced success as a finalist in the NZ Adam Portraiture Awards, NZ Parkin Drawing Prize, Hawkes Bay Review and East Art Awards. She has twice been a Supreme Winner at the prestigous and international World Of Wearable Art Competition and has work in the Te Papa Museum Collection, Wellington. She exhibits her work in select galleries in New Zealand and Australia and has work in public and private collections.
Kate Mackenzie's fragmented, distorted and collaged painted portraits conjure intriguing narratives around psychology and sociology.