• Layla Rudneva-Mackay

Starkwhite is pleased to present ACC bcc Bananas by Layla Rudneva-Mackay from 9 June to 4 July 2020. There is no opening for this exhibition, but the gallery will host an informal get together with the artist and stage a panel discussion on themes in the artist’s work (dates to be advised).

Layla Rudneva-Mackay makes visually and sensually seductive surfaces. Her practice moves between performance based photography and the painting of everyday objects and forms. Often created in the tradition of nature-more or still-life painting, Rudneva-Mackay’s practice allows the visual and tangible to assume a primary role for communication. When time, travel, and the equipment needed to stage her photographs became difficult following the birth of her first child, Rudneva-Mackay turned again to painting and the exploration of commonplace objects.

There’s a long tradition of artists turning to their immediate surroundings for materials with which to make their work – the contents of a room, the street, or the city are muses to many. For Rudneva-Mackay this new body of work signals a life changed and stands as a testimony to her desire to paint during a period of extreme physical pain. A consequence of invasive post-natal medical procedures, the artist says she “can longer be in the world like I used to.” While parenthood alters almost everything about a life so does the experience of pain and medical misadventure.

In her book The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World author Elaine Scarry tells “Physical pain has no voice, but when it at last finds a voice, it begins to tell a story”. This new body of work at Starkwhite spans three operational procedures and a final surgical removal of debilitating urogynaecological mesh that the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority has only recently acknowledged as requiring regulatory action. Recent events have exposed many gaps in health care systems internationally, but what about those on our door step connected to women’s health, traditionally under-researched and under-diagnosed? “Women have been woefully neglected in studies on pain. Most of our understanding of ailments comes from the perspective of men; it is overwhelmingly based on studies of men, carried out by men,” British journalist and author Lynn Enright contends.

Although looking at this new work through the lens of pain is almost inevitable, Layla Rudneva- Mackay’s ability to create lush and active painterly surfaces from soft tones and also vibrant colour remains. Some images are direct, clear, and explicit, others geometricised or abstracted, presenting bold form against shallow ground in free, dynamic brushstrokes. While Rudneva- Mackay’s practice has often presented ambiguous moments or poetic fragments that offer a hint of darkness and mystery this narrative is now fully developed. Fruit becomes a vehicle for dark thoughts and dark feelings while an abundance of gestural clues exist for those wishing to read meaning into form.

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday - Friday 11am - 6pm, Saturday 11am - 3pm or by appointment


  • 510 Karangahape Road
  • Auckland 1010