We are pleased to present ACC bcc Bananas by Layla Rudneva-Mackay from 9 June - 4 July 2020. There is no opening for this exhibition, but we will hold an informal get together with the artist and stage a panel discussion on themes in the artist's work (dates to be advised).
Layla Rudneva-Mackay makes visually and sensually seductive surfaces. Her practice moves between performance based photography and the painting of everyday objects and forms. Often created in the tradition of nature-morte or still-life painting, Rudneva-Mackay's practice allows the visual and tangible to assume a primary role for communication. When time, travel, and the equipment needed to stage her photographs became difficult following the birth of her first child, Rudneva-Mackay turned again to painting and the exploration of commonplace objects.
There's a long tradition of artists turning to their immediate surroundings for materials with which to make their work - the contents of a room, the street, or the city are muses to many. For Rudneva-Mackay this new body of work signals a life changed and stands as a testimony to her desire to paint during a period of extreme physical pain. A consequence of invasive post-natal medical procedures, the artist says she "can no longer be in the world like I used to." While parenthood alters almost everything about a life so does the experience of pain and medical misadventure.
In her book The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World author Elaine Scarry tells "Physical pain has no voice, but when it at last finds a voice, it begins to tell a story". This new body of work at Starkwhite spans three operational procedures and a final surgical removal of debilitating urogynaecological mesh that the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority has only recently acknowledged as requiring regulatory action. Recent events have exposed many gaps in health care systems internationally, but what about those on our door step connected to women's health, traditionally under-researched and under-diagnosed? "Women have been woefully neglected in studies on pain. Most of our understanding of ailments comes from the perspective of men; it is overwhelmingly based on studies of men, carried out by men," British journalist and author Lynn Enright contends.
Although looking at this new work through the lens of pain is almost inevitable, Layla Rudneva-Mackay's ability to create lush and active painterly surfaces from soft tones and also vibrant colour remains. Some images are direct, clear, and explicit, others geometricised or abstracted, presenting bold form against shallow ground in free, dynamic brushstrokes. While Rudneva-Mackay's practice has often presented ambiguous moments or poetic fragments that offer a hint of darkness and mystery this narrative is now fully developed. Fruit becomes a vehicle for dark thoughts and dark feelings while an abundance of gestural clues exist for those wishing to read meaning into form.
Layla Rudneva-Mackay graduated with an MFA from the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2006. She has been described as an artist with a practice that makes a space for being lost for words.
Solo exhibition include ACC bcc Bananas, Starkwhite (2020), Running Towards Water, Starkwhite (2016), Blue Squares, Purple Pairs, Starkwhite (2014), Pointing at Trees, Starkwhite (2012), Green With Envy, Starkwhite (2009), Your words in my mind become mine. Your words are mine now, Enjoy Gallery, Wellington (2007), 6 French Street, New Plymouth, Te Tuhi billboards, Auckland (2003).
Group shows include: Ice Cream Salad, Melanie Roger Gallery (2019), Sampler Starkwhite (2018), Signals, Starkwhite (2014), Reverie, Dowse Art Museum (2014), Lovers, Starkwhite (2014), Recent Acquisitions to the Wallace Arts Trust Collection, Wallace Art Centre (2013) , A Hut of One's Own (with Rachel Walters), Brick Bay (2011), The Rock That Thought it was a Bird, Artspace (2010), Julian Dashper (1960-2009): It Is Life, Minus Space, Brooklyn, NY (2010), Ready to Roll, City Gallery Wellington (2010).
Press release courtesy Starkwhite.