Andrew Mackenzie

Artist Focus
May 8, 2020

Andrew Mackenzie was born in Banff, north east Scotland, and graduated with an MFA from Edinburgh College of Art in 1993.


He is a painter whose work mines a territory between abstraction and representation. His work responds to relationships between landscape and the built environment, focusing often on rivers, reservoirs, tree forms, the edges of fields, car parks and roads, combined with diagrammatic suggestions of manmade structures or open frameworks. These structures are sometimes invented but more often take their starting point from observed buildings or other objects encountered on walks around his home in the Scottish Borders.


‘All my work starts with an experience of a place encountered, often during a walk or a field trip to a specific place. Walking is a key part of generating ideas, and I will explore and record through notes, small drawings and photography. I often get interested in a place because it resonates with something I’ve seen in art history or film, or it causes me to make associations with something I’m reading or thinking about already – an exchange happens.


From these initial responses I develop the work in the studio, leading to an open-ended process of adding and removing paint or charcoal, working over repeatedly with patterns of lines, dots and dashes. Through this layering of surface, detailed subject matter and mark making, I try to create a sense of looking back and forward in time, in the same moment. I present human and non-human as entangled, overlapping, inextricably linked. I’m not presenting an opposition, but rather a personal vision of a sympathetic and sensitive relationship, a symbiotic co-existence, expressed through a formal tension between surface, line and colour.


I often use objects, structures and places to act as signifiers. For example, the lines in Poles Apart are derived from snow poles on a nearby moor. They exist to mark out where the road is, but usually you see them when there is no snow, so you ignore them. Receding coloured verticals against wide-open horizontal moorland are, for me, visually appealing and evocative, especially at dusk. They are a human response to extreme weather. I appropriate them from the moor and ‘plant’ them inside woodland, where their function is transformed and they play against the vertical motion of the evening trees.’


Andrew’s work has been included in important group exhibitions, and he has shown widely in the UK and abroad.

He has received several research and development awards, and has works in many collections, including The Fleming Collection, Marchmont House and The University of Edinburgh. He has extensive experience in arts education and lecturing, with many schools and institutions, including the National Galleries of Scotland.


He has recently built a new studio at his home in the Scottish Borders.