Born in Montrose, McKenzie-Smith studied at Gray’s School of Art and then at Hospitalfield in Arbroath from 1953-58. He was granted a travelling scholarship in 1959 which took him to Paris where he met the Japanese artist, Kenzo Okada, and first encountered Zen philosophy.
Influenced by both Eastern artistic traditions and American colour-field painting, Ian McKenzie-Smith’s recognisable work evokes glimpses of the landscape with skilful subtly and calligraphic gestures. With a quiet resonance, McKenzie-Smith’s abstract paintings use an economy of mark, suggesting atmosphere, colour and shape with a certain restraint which maximises their impact.
Alongside his own artistic practice, McKenzie-Smith has been involved with a number of professional arts organisations, serving as President of the RSA from 1998-2007 and directing Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums for almost 30 years.