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Artist Statement

Jordan McKenzie is a visual artist based in the UK who has exhibited internationally. He works across a diverse range of media including painting, drawing, text, performance and installation. More recently McKenzie has turned his attention to painting. His paintings are materially and visually promiscuous, employing the traditional materials of paint, canvas and drawn marks, but also things found on the street and non-traditional materials like dog fur to upset the hierarchy of high and low cultural production. As much collages/constructions as paintings, these works are concerned with the temporaneous accretion of processes and ideas. Often mirroring the layers of noise, chaos and disorder of the inner-city streets where the artist lives, the studio itself becomes an experimental space of discarded and used visual matter that is added to, collaged, erased, added to again. Much like cardboard boxes in street markets that become congealed pulp after the rain, losing their individual structure and use, McKenzie works quickly and on many paintings at the same time, allowing the chaotic velocity of ideas and materials to cross pollinate and multiply. There is a search for the energy of these contingent urban spaces and experiences in the work, the paintings are stressed out, bombarding but also full of change, invention, humour and freedom. It’s in the act of painting itself, which the artist sees as a performative process, where the disparate areas of his practice unite conceptually, material methodologies, subjects and actions binding meaning together.

Painting is like walking down a street.

Early works employed satire and humour to critique hierarchies of high and low culture and more specifically social class. A three year performance and video project saw the artist adopt the persona of an upper class country gentleman (Monsieur Poo-Pourri) who had mistaken the social housing estate where the artist lives in East London, for a country estate, taking regular strolls and touring his estate while waving at the ‘locals’ in full Victorian dress. Another series of video works ‘queered’ the muscular and macho canon of Minimalism by making a series of humorous interventions into the works of famous Minimalist artists; disco dancing on a Carl Andre tile sculpture and erotically rubbing himself against a Richard Serra sculpture. Though employing humour in his works, McKenzie is making serious and political points about who gets to speak and be represented in culture and who is excluded, and how privilege and power create and maintain social and artistic hierarchies.

Jordan McKenzie (born 1967) is a painter, performance artist and academic based in London. He has exhibited both nationally and internationally in galleries, festivals and arts centers, including Recreational Grounds VII, London (group show 2023) D
Contemporary, London (group show 2022); PADA Gallery, Portugal (group show 2020); LUVA Gallery, London (solo show 2019); Freud Museum, London (solo show 2018); Yorkshire Sculpture Park (solo show 2014); KASA Gallery, Istanbul (solo show 2014); Arnolfini Gallery (solo show 2011); Courtauld Institute (group show 2011). His curatorial projects include LUPA (Lock Up Performance Art) a performance space run from a disused garage on the council estate where he lives in East London (2011-13); Look At The (E)state We're In, a major international conference about art and the council estate (2014); Live(E)lseWhere (co-curated with The Drawing Shed 2014). He has received major arts bursaries and awards from Arts Council England, Arts Admin and The Live Art Development Agency and been an artist in residence in numerous countries.

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