He has been drawing constantly for years, recognising that every time he begins to place the charcoal on the paper there are new compositions, feelings, moods, and expressions being revealed that he needs to explore and capture. When one enters the theatre of the exhibition we see ourselves mirrored in those many forms and feelings.
Captured in poses that range from fluid, relaxed, full of tension, defeated, energetic; here we see ourselves as we really are. What we perceive in these drawings is that the human body is never truly naked. People who are not wearing clothes are wearing themselves, they carry their feelings, their ideas, their attitudes – shame, tiredness, frustration – in the way they carry themselves, in the way they sit, the way they carelessly place a leg or throw an arm to the side.
And this is what is revealed in this series of drawings, ourselves wearing the ‘clothing’ we unconsciously carry. That is the essence of life drawing; to capture our bodies as the artist sees them: through the lens of the human eye and not through the lens of a camera.
What makes MacKenzie’s drawings stand out from the many hundreds of images that fall from the easels of life drawing sessions is that he has kept pushing his technique to the limits. He is always testing those limits, asking how far can he go? It is that constant striving to go beyond the mastering of line, tone and form that lifts this series of drawings out of the ordinary. Hence perspective, which may at first appear strained and unbalanced, on second reflection is as the body is. The leg closer to the viewer really is much larger than the torso.
He also allows for the effect of the accidental, the unexpected, the image revealed as the charcoal slides down the paper, or the hand strays to create a line that is not immediately apparent. By revealing the body in this way, the artist is showing us more about ourselves that we generally perceive. Nowhere is this more apparent than in those drawings where colours are used to reveal the human form.
The charcoal drawings, with their carefully executed shading and proportions, are there. So too are blue or yellow toned bodies, that may at first startle or surprise the viewer.
It is here that the artist’s technique of capturing the instant impression, almost automatically clothes the naked body with colour, and weight. The colours are indeed there in the human skin, but we have not been taught to see them.
Moving among these human images in a setting that is as theatrical as it is ethereal we can begin to reflect on ourselves, and how we are. These drifting bodies, devoid of clothing are ultimately as clothed and adorned as are we!