Aby Mackie is a Barcelona-based artist whose wall-based sculptures are unified through a materials-led methodology combining storytelling and social commentary. Recurring themes can be identified as materialism, consumerism, value and memory. Each series investigates the interconnectedness of these themes through the language of materials.
Often in Barcelona, the contents of entire homes are either thrown onto the streets or auctioned off at Encants Vells market upon the death of a final occupant. The creation of Mackie’s work is driven by the selection and repurposing of objects and textiles from these two practices in order to explore ongoing cultural concerns. This roots Mackie’s artistic process in the everyday existence of the unrecognised, uncelebrated, unknown lives of Barcelona’s residents.
Mackie is captivated by the unobvious silent material witnesses to a life lived; a worn bed sheet, a stained tablecloth, a moth-eaten gown. Such artefacts bare the marks and physicality of human nature, possessing a poetic power. They are simultaneously valuable in their uniqueness and worthless in their deteriorated, decontextualized state. Each piece created from these objects is therefore both the artist’s personal expression of the hidden memories embedded in the original items, and a way to explore the recycling and re-contextualising of meaning and value in contemporary society. The experience and memories of others, imagined and real, fuse seamlessly with Mackie’s own through the salvation, destruction and discordant juxtaposition of materials.
A rich mix of influences can be seen through Mackie’s work in terms of concept (the found object sculpture of Picasso, Miro, Tapies, Grau-Garriga), techniques and materials (Anatsui) and subject matter and aesthetic sense (Basquiat, Schwarz), inviting the viewer to create their own connections and interpretations and encouraging a personal storytelling through materiality.