Fiona MackayFiona Mackay


2 - 21 April 2013

Fiona Mackay was born in Aberdeen
She studied at Glasgow School of Art
Fiona currently lives and works in Brussels




A conversation between Fiona Mackay and Isabel Gylling

Isabel Gylling: Entering the gallery you are immediately struck by the quantity of work in the show. The sensation of being completely surrounded makes me feel as though the paintings are observing me as much as I am observing them, how did you arrive at this configuration?

Fiona Mackay: You could definitely say this show is overhung, but its hung in a conscious way. I wanted to be as generous as possible so that my thinking process during the production of the exhibition was completely explicit. The thinking behind the install was to treat the show like a sentence – using works like words to punctuate and expand around the space.

IG: The paintings in the show seem to verge between abstraction and representation, could you speak a little about how you generate motifs and images?

FM: Normally I start with drawing on paper – something I’ve seen, whether that be a word, an object, a number, a previous painting….. It gets diffused in the process of drawing and thinking - adapting and changing in the making of many multiple drawings. For this show I made virtually no paper work in the attempt to capture all the thinking process directly on the canvas.

I do have however certain motifs and symbols that I use again and again, like a staircase, I love the staircase, or a ladder, there is an elegance in its simple geometry but then bam! suddenly it is a figurative thing…… But it is easy to get comfortable, you should be looking further as well and you should be hunting to make your language broader. The show came from previous works, one painting informs the next one.

IG: You explained to me that you produced these works solely using one type of red and yellow, and two types of blue – only allowing these colours to mix and bleed directly on the canvas, does this constraint allow for more freedom? Do you see this as the grammar, if you like, to this set of paintings?

FM: Although only 3 primary colours were used, I worked with multiple ratios of pigment:water for each colour, so although there was limitation to a certain extent, I wasn’t limited. By keeping it within the boundary of a certain type of red yellow and blue it was easier to read continuity between the paintings adding to the repetitions that encouragingly and unavoidably happen when working within such a short period of time. By mixing the colour directly on the canvas, the action intended to show once gain the process of how syntax is formed.

IG: Previously we spoke about titles and how they relate to the real world and very tangible things, how do you intend them to function?

FM: I like to give people a starting point but not the answer, something that won’t kill the image and let the visual language do its work. When using a title I can be influenced by what I saw in the work while I was making it, or reflection after its completed. The title can sometimes be the starting point. Sometimes the title can be quite loose and cheeky, humour is a thing that I often work with. However you have to be careful that the title is not a joke, you have to treat it seriously. The titles try and make you think in a representational way. To me the works are representational. The titles are trying to bring you back down to real life, its not jut the romance of abstract painting or the qualities of using dyes, the paintings are trying to depict while using a medium that characteristically dissolves and blurrs lines.


Fiona Mackay


Fiona Mackay


Fiona Mackay