“It feels like she’s on the cusp of something here”, said an overheard voice watching the film in the dark room in the middle of the gallery, and it does kind of feel like that, this entire body of work and this rather enjoyable solo show that’s on the cusp of making some kind of slightly exciting sense. It might feel like the work of several artists, three or four different Christina Mackies in the gallery with the film and the installation and the paintings and the various pieces on the table top shelf-things. Actually to say she’s on the cusp is rather rude, Christina Mackie has a rather illustrious history as an artist, her Summer Paintings (in the white frames at the back of the gallery) are as beautiful as the installations are exciting, should the fact that they’re sharing the same space and are apparently the work of the same artist be that perplexing?
Herald St is a very likeable gallery, a serious gallery, a gallery alive with contemporary quality, a space to trust and a space that comes with a little bit of a playful smile, a gallery that takes what it shows very seriously yet manages to smile about it – there’s an impression that they might actually enjoy what they do in this enjoyable East London space hidden in a Bethnal Green back street. Tonight they have a Christina Mackie solo show opening, a show called Drift Rust and the intriguing space, as you might expect, is kind of busy.
Christina Mackie is a name of course, Tate installations and whatnot, she’s known to use a whole range of things to bring her art to life, a variety of media united in here in this show by a depth of colour. The perception of that colour seem to be central to her work, the thing that pulls the roadwork lights, the mostly white objects on the tables and of course the beautifully warm paintings together. it really is the colour somehow ties together the installations and the sculptural pieces that contrast so much with the fluid feel of that summer paint and the lush feel of her warm canvas. An artist in a permanent state of what shall we have for tea today? Will it be paint this evening or will we have sculpture? A big installation, or maybe a delicately energetic painting, a 3D film or some lavish colour applied to canvas?
Mackie, now entering her sixth decade, has produced a wide and varied body of work throughout her career, and here in this relatively small intimate space she has a flavour of it all. There’s a sense of curiosity here, curiosity both for us as viewers and her as artists, an exploring of man-made material, of paint, of colour, of things. Do love those gorgeous summer paintings and the energy that flows from them, do ahve to keep going back to them, back to the colour, the movement captured in those white frames, but it is the whole show that excites and no, not on the cusp of something, to say that is to not really look and feel the show as one exciting wholesome whole.
Drift Rust is a show that takes a while to make sense of and then it suddenly clicks as you stand there in the room, it suddenly all makes so much sense, it all fits together as one and yes, of course there’s only one artist in here and no, not on the cusp of soemthing, far far more than that. A curiosity is rewarded, a fine show enjoyed, an artist on top of her game and a show to most certainly go back to while it occupies the East London space so well. (SW)
Christina Mackie’s solo show Rust Drift is on from 13th April until 21st May 2017 at Herald Street Gallery, 2 Herald St, Bethnal Green, London E2 6JT.
Click on an image to enlarge or run the fractured slide show.