I think one of the most exciting parts of working with artists is watching the shifts as they push their practice. It can be so easy for an artist to stand still, and working with Sarah McKenzie for the past fews years I have come to know that she is always pushing herself as an art maker. I wish I had time to say more, but I am in LA and off to a meeting. Excited to be able to include new work from Sarah in the PULSE booth and to see this new project expand.
Nora Burnett Abrams, the Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver wrote a forward for Sarah's recent exhibition with David B Smith Gallery in Denver. I am including it below to give a bit more context to Sarah's work since I am so rushed this morning.
Sarah McKenzie’s paintings in Transitional depict various architectural sites—private homes, an abandoned factory, a parking garage—many of which seem to be in flux. While the interior spaces of the home reveal the construction process, the paintings of the Gates Rubber factory present a building falling into ruins. McKenzie often depicts spaces of use, but there are never any figures that populate her scenes. This does not mean, however, that her paintings are without a human presence. On the contrary, they teem with details of human use and intervention. Cracked windows, a coil of yellow cord and an opened window shade—these are all the result of human activity. McKenzie’s subject oftentimes seems to be the effects of how we create and occupy the spaces that shelter and protect us. She scrutinizes how we build them up and how we tear them down or abandon them. In this sense, her works make clear that all buildings are continually in a process of transition.
McKenzie does not just address architecture. What makes her paintings so gripping is that they hover between physical documentation of a site and an exploration of pure visual forms. That is to say, she translates these three-dimensional structures into flat images of shapes, lines, and grids. McKenzie’s works are compelling for how they force us to think about how images are constructed or composed.
The windows and door frames of her paintings become a metaphor for the traditional notion that a painting should be a window onto another (better) world. However, McKenzie flips this notion on its head. She shows us the very spaces we inhabit everyday, and she shows how decidedly unglamorous they are. Her paintings captivate with their eerie familiarity and for the striking precision with which they are rendered. Taken together, McKenzie’s recent body of work elegantly balances the rigor of a geometrical composition with a profoundly affecting take on the architecture of contemporary life. To bring those two poles together in a way that forces a reflection on how such spaces are used—and to do so in such a visually compelling manner—is no small achievement.
Sarah McKenzie is represented by Jen Bekman Gallery in NYC. For more information about the artist or the work shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.