Logan Hicks / Love Never Saved Anything / March 7th / 6:30pm / 154 Stanton Street, NYC
More jump off after the jump off…
Logan’s latest body of work is an adaptation of images from his underwater photography experimentation. Using stencils, Hicks uses subtle colour gradients to breathe life into the characters and scenes. We caught up with him for a few words about his latest work.
VNA: So, Logan, tell us a little bit more about your new show, ‘Love Never Saved Anything’…
Logan Hicks: Well it’s the first show I’ve done since last March, I took about a year off in between shows. I felt I needed to realign myself, so with this show it’s a little bit different, it’s the first show I’ve done that is primarily figurative, everything else I’ve done has been more architecturally based. Last year wasn’t a great year, anything that could’ve gone wrong, did, personally, financially, creatively, legally; it was one of those things where you wake up and you think, oh, it couldn’t get any worse, then you realise by the end of the day, it could get worse. The best bit of advice I could’ve had was from my friend, who said ‘just put all of it into the work’, so I’ve been in the studio working at least 10, but up to 15 hours a day, for the past 6 months. You just hide away and do your thing. So, the work is all based on these Sailor traditions and nautical superstitions, I like the metaphor of water, representing both birth and death. I’d done some photos in the water and I really like the weightless drifting feel that it had to it. From there I found a lot of the sailor traditions, Greek mythology, anything that orbited around the idea of water.
VNA: What was the fascination with water and tradition?
LH: Water’s always played a huge part in my life, I’ve always lived near water, I’m a Pisces water sign, my son’s name is Sailor, my dad was in the Navy, it’s just always been around. For the show last March, there was this one piece and I wanted to do the person drifting, but I couldn’t get that on land, so I decided to do this one shot for this one piece and was so happy with the photos that I just kept expanding on that. My loop kept getting bigger to include the sailor stuff. You look at a lot of Greek mythology or sailing traditions, there’s such rich visual language, a lot of the metaphors and allegories are all based on everything that anyone in this life wants, which is life, death, happiness and salvation. It’s the common thread that runs through every allegory you’ve ever read and sailor traditions are no different. So that’s the starting point of the rabbit hole that I went down.
VNA: Obviously you’ve done a lot of background research and photography and a lot of reading into it, what are the most interesting things you’ve found?
LH: The Sailor traditions are particularly interesting just because there doesn’t seem any rhyme or reason why people chose stuff. There was one that says if a woman walked out of her house on Valentines Day and saw a Sparrow, she’d marry a sailor, if she saw a Robin she’d marry a poor man, but be happy, and if she saw a Goldfinch, she’d marry a rich man. You think, how did that come about? There’s everything from setting foot on the boat with your left foot, or if you’re heading off to sea and see a redhead, it’s bad luck if she speaks to you first, but you can counter that by speaking to her first, then you’re not supposed to look back after you leave shore, women are never supposed to wish you goodbye at port. You can imagine if you’re a sailor at sea, you’re doing one thing, fishing, so you’re probably just spending your time thinking up superstitions to believe in.
VNA: You’re taking a lot of your own photography alongside your artwork, has that developed alongside your painting as an accompanying art-form?
LH: In the beginning, I used to take snapshots for reference, for a long time I’ve avoided thinking about myself as a photographer, even though I have the gear and I do the photos, but I think for the first time, doing this show, I’ve felt comfortable wearing that suit. I’ve started taking things a lot more seriously and using sets, stylists and make-up artists. I just realised if you have a vision, you have a creative obligation to follow it through and if there’s any factor you can control, to further enhance that, you’re obligated to do that. So I worked with a fashion designer out in Chicago and tried to push it as far as I could, I tried to think of myself as a photographer and not just someone who pushes buttons.
VNA: So that extends to your passion for Urban Exploration, tell us a little bit more about how you got into that…
LH: When I first moved to New York, everyone had either heard of or seen Dark Days or the Mole People. That was the introduction to the tunnels and the world under there for a lot of people, for me too. I remember reading The Mole People and you read about this rich history of things and you think, fuck, I wanna see that. I was fortunate to meet a few people who were into that and they introduced me and since then my passion has grown. My interest with the city is the same as my interest with people; it’s seeing what’s underneath the surface, so for me, you see someone who’s successful, the success never interests me, how they got there and the steps they took to get there interest me. The city’s the same thing, you see a smooth operating city, but it’s the little nuts and bolts things, like how do they move the sewage out, how do they get the electricity in, how do they move the people around, what’s the infrastructure that supports this vast network of people? For me the urban exploration has to do with seeing what’s underneath the skin of the city.
VNA: You seem to like peeling back the layers?
LH: Years ago when I was in LA, the woman I was dating at the time was an acupuncturist and we had this long conversation about how the city and the way that it grows mimics nature. The way that it spreads isn’t unlike the way a virus takes over. You look at a subway map and it isn’t that difficult to imagine them as blood vessels and nerve endings. There was one particular study that they did with a type of mould or fungus and they put it on two different cities on a topographical map and they worked their way to each other. The way they worked their way to each other nearly mirrored the way that roads were built. It’s easy to think of cities as an organism that’s growing and working in unison and each part is significant in it’s own way. I think a lot of that has to do with how I was trying to find my place in the world, where I belonged and what I was supposed to do, looking at the bigger picture to see where I fit into that.
VNA: Do you see your artwork itself as quite an organic evolution?
LH: Yeah for sure, you look at a lot of the early stuff, the urban exploration and architectural pieces and a lot of that’s made from this passive standpoint, of me as an observer, standing back looking at it. None of this is conscious, I don’t go out thinking I’m going to make passive artwork, but I look back on what I was doing a couple of years ago and a lot of it is sort of where do I fit in? It’s work from different cities, at night, at a time where you think about stuff. With this work, I’ve kind of grown into my skin over the past couple of years, I’m happy with where I’m going and what I’m doing. So now it’s more of a direct interaction with people. I think the artwork that you make always mirrors the mindset that you have. Sometimes you don’t even know what the mindset is, but you can look at the work and figure it out through that.
VNA: Certainly looking at some of your earlier pieces, there’s some very stark, architectural and uninvolved work. It still seems a little austere, but there seems to be more feeling in your new work.
LH: I think this work has a lot more soul than the stuff I’ve done previously. If you look at the trajectory of me using stencils as my medium, certainly the first five to six years was simply me trying to technically master what it was that I was doing. It’s like language, once you know the words, it’s no longer a matter of ‘can you talk in that language’, it’s a question of ‘what are you going to say?’ But for a while I really stuttered on what I was trying to say, in the past couple of years, I’ve felt a lot more comfortable.
Logan’s latest show opens to the public in New York on the 7th March.