Cynthia Mackenzie

The paintings I have in “Posy” are an exploration of conflicting perspectives regarding manufactured flower fields. I chose an aerial viewpoint as a visual portrayal of taking a step back allowing for the exclusion of minute details, literally and figuratively, which created the freedom to explore the broader concept: natural beauty versus manipulated beauty.

I began with “Tulips for Rothko” to honour Mark Rothko, an important influence of how I evolved as an artist. I feel connected to his paintings, and his piece titled “No. 16” has uncovered inherit abilities and new concepts at various stages in my life. As a child, a quick flash of “No. 16” across the television screen, evoked such a surprisingly strong emotional response that the image was burned into my consciousness and I became fixated on exploring my reaction to it. Although unaware that what I had experienced was a painting, “No. 16” introduced the idea of expression through colour and shape, and my attempts at understanding it taught introspection.

Without the internet, or knowledge of Mark Rothko to use for research, the picture that had affected me so profoundly had become but an impactful memory. However, as a teenager visiting my sister in Ottawa (“coincidentally” after our trip to the Ottawa tulip festival) we attended the National Gallery of Canada where I was unexpectedly confronted with the authentic version of the image that had obsessed my youth. Rendered speechless, I stood in front of “No. 16” as the same intense emotions from my childhood consumed me. I experienced a deep sorrow while at the same time great joy being communicated through the work. That contradiction ignited within me a passion and insatiable curiosity for opposites, connection and contradiction that has been the motivation behind my works ever since.

It seems fitting that while I started the paintings for “Posy” with a piece to honour an influence on me as an artist, that I ended with a piece to honour an important influence in my life personally. “Aggie;” supposed to have been an exploration of chrysanthemum fields in Japan, shifted into a tribute to my grandmother, Agnes Isabelle, after she passed away in the middle of its creation. A lover of nature and animals, Agnes was the epitome of everything that is good. She chose kindness and love in all situations and took pleasure in the simple things in life. After her passing I struggled to complete my final piece feeling as though I was fighting against myself. Overwhelmed and emotional I sat on the floor in my basement studio and thought “Gram this one’s a doozie,” and appropriately, as she had a gift for uncomplicating things, it was as if I heard her respond with “Just paint me a flower, kid.”

See these and the rest of Cynthia’s series in the gallery until June 10. -CB

May 23, 2017

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