Belgrave St Ives - Modern & Contemporary Art

Alexander Mackenzie

Alexander Mackenzie (1923-2002)

Born: Liverpool 1923. Visited West Cornwall and Yorkshire as a child.

Studied: Liverpool College of Art

Selected Biographical Information:

Lived in Yorkshire.
War service with the Inns of Court Regiment, involved in reconnaissance.
Attended Liverpool College of Art.
Moved to Newlyn, painted in a broadly 'naturalistic' style.
Taught art at Lescudjack School, Penzance, painting in his spare time. Work increasingly abstract from the mid-1950s, possibly influenced by friendship with Ben Nicholson.
Showed at Waddington's in London, received critical praise from Herbert Read and Roland Penrose and purchased for the Arts Council collection (by Alan Bowness and Lawrence Gowing).
A review in Art News summarises his style well, suggesting he had the 'ability to humanise Ben Nicholson and an ability to lend structural backbone to Peter Lanyon'.
Had two exhibitions at Durlacher's Gallery, New York (John Wells, who was a lifelong friend, also showed there), while there he became friendly with American abstract artist Franz Kline.
Moved to Trefrize, taught and then became Head of Fine Art at Plymouth College of Art (1972).
Exhibition at Plymouth City Art Gallery.
Moved to Saltash. Made regular visits to the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria inspiring many paintings.
Returned to Penzance to live and became Vice-Chair of the Penwith Society.
Held final London exhibition at Austin Desmond.

Brief Overview:

Alexander MacKenzie was a successful teacher and artist. He enthusiastically contributed to the development of the Schools Art Collection in the 1960s through his role as a 'sponsor'. Had he not largely withdrawn from the London commercial art world after his shows at Waddington's, like his friend John Wells, he may have become much better known. He was intensely interested in ancient contours and remains in the landscape and his mature, abstract style speaks of the sensation of landscape, moving through and over it. Peter Davies described his work as a 'systematic, visual abstraction from nature', while in the catalogue for his London exhibition in 1999, his work is described as '...a cartographic journey with the image focussing and unfocussing in a type of mental time-lapse'.

Exhibition overview

Alexander Mackenzie had three solo exhibitions at the Waddington Gallery, London, two at Durlacher Fine Art, New York and one at Austin Desmond Fine Art, London. In 2007 Austin Desmond are holding a further exhibition from 11 May - 8 June 2007.

His work is included in many public collections including the Tate Gallery, London and the Arts Council.



Alexander Mackenzie: Paintings, Collages and Drawings, May 1999 by Austin Desmond Fine Art