Campus Life

Logan pulls inspiration from Norse mythology

Darcy Logan's newest installation, Knowing/Gnawing, in the Helen Christou Gallery, presents his most recent paintings alongside a selection of works from the U of L collection, which provide context and inspiration for his art practice.

"The works are by Canadian artists including Alan Harding MacKay, Rebecca Anweiler, Renee Van Halm, William MacDonnell and Jerome Witvleit," says Logan, who earned his Bachelor of Fine arts in Art at the U of L in 2002 and is the curator at the Bowman Arts Centre.

"I wanted the exhibition to be about bodies of artistic work."

In addition to paintings, Logan also included a set of nine altered encyclopedias, which were made specifically for this exhibition, to work conjointly with the MacKay books as a way to 'read' the exhibition.

"It was important to have this reading mediated not by traditional didactics, but by altered books as re-contextualized bodies of knowledge," says Logan. "My current body of work, entitled Know/Gnaw/Naglfar, uses myth as a metaphor to explore the nature of knowledge and ideas.

"In Scandinavian mythology, the Naglfar is a ship being constructed in the underworld and the name is Old Norse for "nail ferry," which speaks to the rivets that hold the planks together, and a description of its mythic purpose."

It seems the building materials for this ship are the fingernails and toenails of the dead, the detritus of the body.

"When enough discordant people have died and the necessary amount of raw material gathered, the ship will be completed, freed from its moorings, and carry the forces of chaos to ensure the end of the world," he says. "This story provoked a string of associations for me, and gave me pause to reflect on how knowledge and ideologies are defined and constructed, and, ultimately, the consequences that follow in their wake. These are often disastrous, and result from the excesses of philosophical and ideological certainty, or the dangerous limits of knowledge."

In keeping with the myth, Logan's works contain human fingernails and toenails, embedded in the paint.

"My works are as much assemblages as they are paintings," he says. "I use layers of encrusted earth, resins and rusting agents to create the finished pieces. I often carve into the drying mud, leaving parts depressed and others in high relief. I am interested in compositional tension and attempt to explore and exploit normally incongruous elements on the canvas."

These elements can be the tensions between the thick, matte appearance of the mud and the thin reflective quality of resin, the tension between illusionist representation and passages of implied abstract space, or the tension between the modern and primitive nature of the materials.

Knowing/Gnawing is in the Helen Christou Gallery until Jan. 3, 2010.