Zachari Logan is Artist-in-Residence of quartier21/MQ and contributor to the exhibition FACELESS
I see a lot of late-Renaissance or Baroque references in your work, especially in your drawings [pastel on paper], which have a fantastical and nearly mythic aura. What would you say if I called you a „modern-day Arcimboldo“?
I would love that! I would think that was wonderful, especially because the work that I made last year was a kind of incorporation and homage to Arcimboldo. I didn’t actually know that the Kunsthistorische Museum has such a remarkable collection.
But modern-day Arcimboldo … well … I’m fascinated by portraiture. For a long time I’ve been dealing with my own body. Originally when I started working with images of nature, animals and plants, even before the „Garden series“ , I was trying to figure out ways to still work with my body, but I wondered how to transform it. One of the obvious ways was to take references from art history. And my favorite period is Baroque.
So you’re playing with historical depictions of male identity.
Yes. In 2009 when I was in Paris, I went to the Louvre and drew from the neo-classical paintings in the grand hall. I drew from portions of paintings I was interested in, which resulted in focusing on the hands, male hands, that were touching each other. The figures in the paintings weren’t necessarily holding hands, but they had intimate, I wouldn’t say homosexual, but homosocial moments. So these portions within these large, huge paintings that showed death, colonialism and despair interested me. Within these paintings there’s a harsh masculine ideal being portrayed, but there are tiny, beautiful moments of intimacy. […]
And what about these beautiful flowers on your wall?
I was invited by curator Bogomir Doringer to contribute to the exhibition “Faceless”, which will be opened in freiraum quartier21 INTERNATIONAL in June. There are some previous works that Bogomir would like to show in the exhibition where I am covering my face with my hair. So he’s really interested in those. But well, what you see here I’m doing particularly for the show. My body will be in the picture, but you will only see something small, possibly a hand.
The garden is the „counterpart“, the body is rather isolated, kind of swallowed by the nature.
It’s a psychological space as much as it’s a real space, because the garden subject is also a reference to a famous tapestry series, The Unicorn Tapestries, where my body evokes the character of the unicorn within these landscapes. […] The space in these gardens is meant to be both flattened as a tapestry might break down space with the use of pattern, but also have the sense of expansive space, like the background within a Caravaggio painting. […]
All of the plants depicted in my pictures are plants that I collect from different residencies. I kind of recycle from other places, so my gardens become a semblance of memory and recollection. […] The plants become experiential, personal; metaphorical elements of memory, I’m creating a mind space.
Your self-portaits are mainly body-portaits, which means you’re focussed on the representation of the male (naked) body. Anyway, isn’t it narcissistic too? Do you somehow learn about your identity through the creation of a personal „mirror“?
I was using images of other men, but there was a strange distance, the drawings were cold. One of my professors one day came to me and said “Maybe you should turn it on yourself” I’m so happy I listened to her advice. I did one… I continued. […] There is kind of a trick that you’re doing when you’re using your own body. It’s funny because when I look at these pieces now and I look at the work I’m doing presently, I see that my body seems to disappear…
The less you show the more we see?
Yes, it’s weird. I don’t know if that makes sense. I used my body as a catalyst, to say something about masculinity, about society, but they were not necessarily saying something about me beyond a political view. Now my work is more about an internal state, as I begin appear less predominantly, they become more internally self-referential.
A man wearing nothing but a T-shirt can be elegant and witty at the same time…
Well, it’s because the male body is connected with ridiculous things like bravado and honour. The most simple way to play with that is to just take off the pants.
Find the whole Interview with Zachari Logan on the MQ Blog: http://www.mqw.at/blog/2013/06/29/maybe-you-should-turn-it-on-yourself/