Collectors Love: Dani Mckenzie

Our writers look at the artists who have caught the attention of collectors in the past year and achieved sell-out shows.

Words: Briony Downes

Dani McKenzie’s paintings speak of a past quickly fading from sight like the view from a car window. Based on the vernacular photographs and crackly home movies one might find tucked away in a shoebox at a garage sale, frequent features in McKenzie’s work are picturesque landscapes, caravans and cars, each conceptually linking her images to the journey – to place, through time and into memory.

Everyday life in suburban culture is also a predominant fixture in McKenzie’s visual repertoire. Clothing styles and car models suggest her protagonists are placed within the mid-20th century, with women in swimsuits and hair perfectly swept into scarves, and children posing with their pets in idyllic country locales. McKenzie’s paintings exude a beguiling sense of movement, an effect she achieves by lightly dragging her brush across the painted surface.

This disruption of the image does not result in a messy picture plane, instead, it emphasises McKenzie’s technical skill as a painter. Colours are expertly blended and brushstrokes remain precise despite an overall blurriness. Not unlike the dreamy facades produced by soft-focus camera filters trained on the faces of aging television stars, the visual slippage in McKenzie’s work denies the viewer an opportunity to focus on detail.

A consistent favourite with collectors, McKenzie’s most recent exhibitions has been hugely successful. Visions, McKenzie’s 2019 solo exhibition at MARS Gallery in Melbourne, and her 2020 Recognising Strangers at Sydney’s Olsen Gallery, each sold out within days. In anticipation of similar demand for McKenzie’s February 2021 exhibition at MARS, director Andy Dinan already has a sizable waiting list. “People get very cross with me when there are no works available and beg me to let them know first when they come in,” she says. With works held in private collections throughout Australia, Singapore, the UK, USA and Europe, McKenzie is a quiet high achiever.

Presented with an Outstanding Academic Achievement Award at the culmination of both her Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Sydney’s National Art School, McKenzie followed this academic success with an Onslow Storrier Residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris in mid-2017.

In 2019, her oil on linen painting, Camp, won the Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize. In addition to her 2021 solo show at MARS and being a finalist in the 2020 Muswellbrook Art Prize, McKenzie will soon travel to Paris to partake in her second residency at the Cité.

Image: Dani McKenzie, Boy, 2020. Oil on linen, 46 x 46cm. Courtesy: the artist and MARS Gallery, Melbourne.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 95, JAN – MAR 2021.

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