Lucy McKenzie is interested in blurring the boundaries between art and design, as well as art and life. Her work challenges our notions about the role of the artist and encompasses a wide range of visual and written forms. She is involved in curating, fiction writing, illustration, decorative and trompe-l’oeil painting, sculpture, installation, fashion design and interior design.
Underpinning all these activities is her desire to form new associations or meanings through the use of both existing and newly made source material and to explore and critique existing orthodoxies. Drawing from an eclectic array of sources, including art and design history, contemporary culture, crime fiction, politics and pornography, the resulting works are rich with references.
McKenzie’s use of traditional techniques such as decorative and trompe-l’oeil painting is a significant aspect of her work. Over recent years she has produced a body of paintings which take the form of the quodlibet– the name given to a trompe-l’oeil or illusionistic painting depicting ribbons, letters, playing cards, and/or other material of a kind that might be found on a writing desk. McKenzie’s works in this vein have the appearance of cork pinboards with various items attached to them, or tabletops strewn with objects. An example is Quodlibet (Fascism) (2012), in which she has used the form of a mood board to explore the aesthetics of the twentieth-century Italian Fascist movement. Attached to a pinboard are paint sample booklets, architectural drawings for a bathroom, as well as images of different types of marble – all materials that point towards the idea of the interior, or of decoration. Also visible is a flyer for the 1933 Triennale di Milano – the showcase for modern decorative and industrial arts held regularly in Milan.
By linking these elements, McKenzie is alluding to how a ‘Fascist’ may choose to have his or her bathroom decorated –the combination of extreme politics, mundane daily life and the use of design. Rather than making a definitive statement, the impression with McKenzie’s quodlibet works is of subjects under investigation or research in process – deliberately without the closure associated with a finished work.