Andrew Mackenzie, Merz gallery
The recently opened Merz gallery in Broughton Street takes its name from Kurt Schwitter’s use of merz, or rubbish, for his art. It is a pun, for the site used to be a junk shop – so the spirit of Schwitters lives on. Schwitters was an abstract artist at one level but because he used scraps of material discarded from our daily lives, his art also retained a very positive link with the quotidian. Andrew Mackenzie, currently showing, is in this tradition.
His art has all the purity and simplicity that one looks for in this kind of visible music. But his lovely compositions of balanced shapes in grey and white, and subtle variations of surface have titles such as Untitled (power station, hidden wires), Untitled (pier), or Untitled (suspended walkway). The use of “Untitled” is a convention of abstract art, but in the bracketed bit the artist seems to direct us to the actual landscape experience that was the original grit for his pearl. And, indeed, pearls they are. Exquisitely made, they seem to be the record of a process of gradual refinement; the distillation of the essential music as all the interference and ambient noise is stripped away to leave the eloquence of simplicity.
The Scotsman Tuesday, 26th November 2002