STEPPING STONE: A READ BETWEEN THE LINES OF LOGAN HICKS
HZ FOR GRAFF-IC DESIGNHZ: Let' s get right down to it. "Thin Veils and Heavy Anchors" is your new show opening at LACE in LA from March 8th to the 11th and yes we are encouraging as many peeps as possible to come out and see your works there. In preparation for the show and by the way, big love for taking the time out for the interview, what's in store for us, what formats or mediums, topics, can we expect to see from your new collection of works?
|Photo credit: Søren Solkær #SørenSolkær www.starbird.dk|
Well, strictly on a visual level, I've begun to work with more figures. In the past my work has been identified by these desolate, dark, unwelcoming locations. As my work has evolved, I've realized that there are some thoughts, feelings and stories that can't be told without the figure. So now, rather than have the isolation of abandoned locations, I've introduced life into the paintings.
But beyond the visual changes that you may see on the wall, this show is a departure from my comfort zone in many other ways. The most notable being that I have signed on with Pat Magnarella Management to produce the show. Although I have had great success with various galleries in the past, I felt it was time to take a bit more control of my career. of where I am showing, of knowing my buyers a bit better, of having more oversight on what is being sold and what isn't. Working closely with Pat has really helped me align some of my goals and push forward with things.
HZ: Great to have someone who is on the same page congrats on that union.. The title "Thin Veils and Heavy Anchors", I immediately get a visual, but can you speak a bit about that and how that title was born, and how it relates to you on a personal level?
LH: The title has both literal and metaphorical meanings. The phrase Thin Veils refers to seeing things for what they are, not what the pretend to be. This applies to people and places. For me, just trying to see things for what they are, of what the real motivations are of people and how I fit into that had driven me. Last year I had a rough time with a few things and I felt like my eyes were opened - that the veil was pulled back. So just that process of self discovery, of evaluating things and seeing the individual cogs of the machine instead of just seeing the big picture.
On a literal meaning, I have begun re-introduce patterns in my work. I use to used them frequently, but began to move away from them when I was focusing on a more realistic depiction of the environment. Now that I've returned to them, I have a new found passion for them. So the 'veil' of my work are these monochromatic patterns that are etched into the backgrounds, and sprayed over the figures to obscure things. I like being able to paint something then selectively fade areas by obscuring them with the patterning.
The term Heavy Anchors comes from the my realization that I am a fairly hard headed, and determined guy. This can both good and bad, but in this case, it's about being lured by false prophets and empty promises. It's about staying the course, and looking forward. It's about not casting doubt on yourself and wallowing around in self pity. It's about casting your anchor and not letting the elements blow you off your moor. Having a heavy anchor keeps you grounded.
HZ: Well said.. In looking at your photographs "Fucking Junkies" and Img 1352 (Croix Rouge) which happen to be my favorite amongst favorites of your photographic works, I love how you captured the essence of the space but also the lighting is phenomenal. I get a surreal cinematic feel to them haunting yet I am so intrigued and practically pulled into the environment.
How do you do it??? lol meaning also how do you choose your spaces or do they choose you? Can you speak a bit about your exhibit at the Opera Gallery a couple of years back "Pretty Ugly"?
LH: For the photography, you just go as many places you can, and you take photos when something catches your eye. I'd like to think that boring people make boring photos, so I try to see and do as much as I can. For that Fucking Junkies piece, that was a storefront in Athens, Greece. From the outside everything was fairly regular. it has a roll down gate on it, you really wouldn't notice anything, but when I looked at the floor, there were about a dozen syringes on the floor. Greece was crazy like that. Every place I went, I would see a syringe. I went into this abandoned mansion and I saw no less than 100 used syringes in one of the rooms. it was disgusting. You start feeling all creeped out like you're going to step on one, or run into it. That storefront was the icing on the cake though. Apparently the junkies would toss their used syringes throughout the roll down gate and they just sat there as this reminder of the world outside.
The Croix Rouge is a photo of a famous abandoned subway station in the Paris Metro. One my hobbies is exploring the infrastructure of cities. Subways, Drainage systems, sewer systems, etc. It's just amazing to see these monstrous structures under the skin of the city and nobody gets to see them. They're sealed up and usually inaccessible. So taking the photo is the easy part. It's the getting into them that you need to worry about the most though.
About the Pretty Ugly exhibit, that was definitely a turning point in my career. It was the largest solo show I had done up until that point so it pushed me to think bigger than I had been. Both in terms of creatively and physically. I work well under pressure, so for months leading up to that I was living inside my head trying to imagine the work hanging on the wall, the concepts for the show, the execution of the show, etc. It was maddening trying to figure it all out, but I was thrilled with the outcome of the show. After it was all done, I feel like I slept for a week.
HZ: Haha I hear it! Congrats on that one...In noticing, you have a work span of many areas in shows and exhibits including Gambia and Oslo, Norway for the Human Rights Watch project and promoting Universal Human Rights tell us a bit about how it was to work with those two exhibits and working in those areas.
LH: For the Oslo show, I was introduced to that project through my very good friend Chaz from The London Police. He was curating the project and was asked by Katinka, the organizer, to reach out to various artist he felt would do the project justice. So we did street murals and also donated work for an auction that took place for the opening. They opening was a success and they sold most all of the work that night, with the majority of the money going to Human Rights Watch. After that I have continued to work with Katinka and I'm hoping to be able to make it back to Oslo in the near future to show again.
The Gambia project was another one where I was brought on board by a fellow artist and friend - Eelus, who was asked to reach out to artists on behalf of the lodge that was organizing it. The idea for the show was to bring in artists to paint in surrounding villages. I thought that they were going to include other African artists, or include the community a bit more, but unfortunately they didn't. It was a pity because the root of it was to promote change, and to increase tourism to these communities and to help them become more self sufficient, but the end result was that I felt like I was sort of coming in and invading their space. Africa was terrific, but the project in Africa was plagued by ineptitude and lack of foresight. These things happen and there isn't much you can do, but when you're in Africa in 105 degree heat and 90 percent humidity it's brutal I had to leave early and I flew out after the first week. Others stayed for an additional week and during that time one of the 2 airlines that fly into Gambia went bankrupt and canceled all flights. Everybody that was there had to buy new tickets on the other airline. I was just happy to get out.
HZ: Wow insane!! What Groovy experiences to travel and create your art. It's the way. And the Martha Cooper Remix project in NYC? what a jewel she is, she came to my rescue in Wynwood 2011 when I took a nasty fall over a blind curb almost destroying my camera. So not only a great photographer/documentarian but a great human!. which piece did you choose and why?
LH: Martha is amazing. I have yet to ever hear anybody say anything bad about her. She's from Baltimore, did you know? Everybody thinks she is from New York because she was around taking photos of all the early graffiti and b-boys, but she came from Baltimore. That is originally how we bonded, since I am from there too. Sometimes in your career you have these arbitrary mental benchmarks that you assign yourself. Being photographed by Martha Cooper was one of those benchmarks. It was one of those things when you're being photographed, that you're just saying to yourself "holy shit, I am being photographed by Martha Cooper!!!". She is terrific. She just donated a book and print for an auction that I am doing for my sons' school.
For the print that I did, i chose it because it was one of the iconic images she has. Then again, she has plenty of iconic images, but that one spoke to me. For starters, it had the subway in it, and I'm a sucker for subway shots. The second thing is that I liked the mixture of architecture of the subway juxtaposed with the cop standing. If you look at my work in this show, you'll see a similarity.
HZ: Yeah, sort of divine appointments if you will. You know for the longest I thought she was from brooklyn but then was informed she is from Baltimore. She is amazing no doubt. packs a mean band-aid too.. On your artworks, stencil murals and paintings, first, conversations with myself, then bit about African portraits. then the mural Howard and Mercer.
LH: The African portraits I did came about from the project I did in Gambia. Before we began the project all the village chiefs came to the lodge to have a meeting to discuss what would be painted, and when it would be painted. Each Village chief came in their best outfit, and they all had such amazing character. I didn't want to snap photos when they weren't looking, so I asked to take their portrait, which they luckily obliged. The pieces I did were an homage to them.
The Howard and Mercer piece that I did was one of those 'Ah Ha!" pieces. I had been looking for a way to do larger murals that were not so incredibly labor intensive. Although I love doing the large pieces, they are difficult because of the sheer amount of effort to get the stencils cut, and then to apply them. So just looking at this photo I took, I thought to myself, I wish I could see into these buildings just to see what everybody is up too. That spawned the idea of seeing the buildings as these bodies with parasites living inside them. So I worked from that idea that the buildings were skeletons. So I wanted to show the juxtaposition of the surface of the city vs. the form to the city.
|HOWARD AND MERCER|
The Conversation with myself was really the first piece that I did that had a figure in it. If I did that piece again, I would have used other models, but it's ironic that I used myself. The title, Conversation with Myself referred to this dialogue that i had in my head bout moving in a different direction. Of including people in my work in a way that wasn't just candid street shoots. Of actually posing them to stand and look like I wanted them too. So that conversation with myself was the precursor to the Thin Veils and Heavy Anchors show that you see now in many ways.
|CONVERSATION WITH MYSELF|
HZ: I love it. It's amazing how one work can create a trajectory for something else. Let's talk about the books: Walls and Frames /Graffiti 365 a bit about these books and how the project involvement came about? Any more book projects forthcoming?
LH: I've had a good run on books lately. sometimes a few years will pass and nothing but 2 years ago there were 3 or 4 books that I was in. It's hard to gauge why or how, but I suppose it's just a matter of making good art and putting it out there into the world. Eventually somebody will want to do a book and include you.
As far as future book things,nothing yet. I've begun thinking about doing a comprehensive book of my work. I feel like I'm on the dawn of a new time, so it'd be nice to have something to document the work up until this point.
LH: Personally, it's just to just keep moving forward. I would like to travel a bit more. Explore a bit more. But for the most part I'm happy with the direction my life is taking. I just want to make it more solid.
Professionally I'm enjoying working larger. I'd love to continue going larger with my work. To continue painting the figurative work that I am debuting at this show. I have some good shows planned for 2014 already. A group show in Bogota Colombia, and a group show at a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Always love using art as a reason to see the world.
HZ: Big props man and thanks for the interview and the work. Looking forward to the show and the future work!
"THIN VEILS AND HEAVY ANCHORS"
PREMIERES AT LACE ON MARCH 8TH-11TH 2013 (LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS)
SPECIAL THANKS TO LOGAN HICKS, COATES AND SCARRY AND LACE.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LOGAN HICKS
MANAGEMENT: PAT MAGNARELLA MANAGEMENT