Layla Rudneva-Mackay


Layla Rudneva-Mackay’s practice is not medium specific, having moved through sculpture and photography and drawing to painting flowers out of a persistent interest in form and colour. And, more importantly, in what the consideration of form and colour require as a methodology over and above any material choices.

The still life tradition offers a space apart from many forms of complication – a space of non-criticality, or an acceptance that, as Manet put it for a time on his personal letterhead, “everything happens”. It could be seen as an experiment in what happens when a person leaves the space of analysis, interpretation, strict representational orders, or narrative curiosity, and is interested in what things look like when the conversation of the body is avoided.

The practice appears to make a space for being lost for words, and learning to inhabit this peaceably, despite the compulsion to continually put energy into the challenge of language. Such an experiment leaves space for other states or kinds of being to be accepted and occupied.

Painting, here, seems like the material results of metaphysical enquiry into primary or natural states, and different registers of thought. The visual is given primacy over customary expectations about the gathering and sharing of information and knowledge.

Rudneva-Mackay presents a new suite of paintings of flowers that are reminiscent of Post-Impressionist works and recall their observation of what has been traditionally considered a less lofty artistic genre. They also reveal her continuing interest in form and patches or fields of colour, employed in a way that is clear, but not explicit. The visuality of her work is always underlined by a certain silence or a poetic turn in title and a concern with what is it to show someone something rather than telling them. The act of observation and its material expression demands a radical slowness and humility of gesture and the steady, abstracting attention of the eye…all things that define Rudneva-Mackay’s practice.

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.

Courtesy of Starkwhite.