Installation view of William Mackinnon’s <em>Home and away</em> 2021–22 on display as part of the Melbourne Now exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Sean Fennessy

William Mackinnon

William Mackinnon
(b. 1978, Melbourne. Lives and works Melbourne and Ibiza)

William Mackinnon is an artist and painter based between Ibiza and Australia whose practice is underscored by a sense of magical realism. Often drawing on personal experiences and the landscapes of his home in Australia, Mackinnon creates scenes that are frequently ambiguous, existing between the familiar and the unknown, with the artist combining real and imaginary elements to transform everyday experiences into an enigmatic other.

Mackinnon refers to many of his paintings as ‘psychological landscapes’, interweaving personal and cultural histories to convey how it feels to be alive in the world today. Home and away, 2021–22, like many of Mackinnon’s paintings, features the recurring motifs of trees and roads, in a semi-urban scene constructed from memory. From the rolling hillscape and vermilion evening sky to the lights of the city and roadside minutiae, conflicting emotional states percolate through the canvas, evoking simultaneous feelings of anxiety and calm. In the artist’s idiosyncratic compositional style, what at first looks like an everyday scene comes to imply something wonderful, menacing and extraordinary upon closer inspection.

Mackinnon completed a Master of Visual Arts at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, in 2008. He has held solo exhibitions around the world, including in Beijing, London, Ibiza, Melbourne and Adelaide. He was also included in the 2017 NGV Triennial. Mackinnon’s work is held in the collections of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne; Art Gallery of South Australia; Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory; Parliament House; State Library Victoria; Artbank; Griffith University; Holmesglen; Joyce Nissan; the Macquarie Group; RACV; and the Stonnington Council, as well as a number of private collections in Australia and internationally. In 2021, Mackinnon was awarded the Arthur Guy People’s Choice Memorial Prize at Bendigo Regional Gallery, and he has been a finalist for many prizes, including the Archibald Prize, Wynne Prize, Basil Sellers Art Prize and Fleurieu Biennale Art Prize.