Drawing upon various influences from Romanticism’s landscape painting to theology and contemplative silence, Logan Marconi’s oil paintings explore themes of existence and spirituality by revealing a haunting, numinous world. His most recent body of work focuses on death, faith, and ritual as mysterious forces that shape existence. More emotive than descriptive, Logan’s paintings bring to mind forgotten ceremonial grounds and seem to unearth a supernatural presence. His process is one of inquiry and reflection, resulting in a constant working out- an excavation- of what haunting presence he feels. For him, it is not enough to represent the world as it appears physically; instead, he strives to truthfully represent the world as it is felt. As a result, the paintings undergo numerous revisions so what is finally left bares some truthful resonance.
I have been spending time writing about my new body of work entitled The Haunting for an upcoming exhbition at the end of September. So I felt it important to put down some thoughts and insights I've had over the last six months. I write as a form of studio practice to help me articulate what it is I am doing and why. These writings often come in bits and pieces only later to be formed into a whole because I can never say with certainty what a body of work really is until I have spent much time with it. Having said that, I occassionally have moments where the present connects to some past writing. Today I found one such piece and, with a little editing to make it more clear, have decided to post it since it is fitting for this new work yet still connects to the over arching practice. I will be posting more writings in the near future that specifically address themes and ideas about The Haunting.
There is something about how the act of painting reflects one’s disposition. In one way, composing and rendering an image is to come closer to that image while in another it opens up contemplation. For me, it is not enough to accurately render or represent, instead the image should truthfully represent. Because of this I often find myself desiring an environment that reflects my disposition so that what is painted becomes a link between the interior and exterior worlds. Through painting I reconstruct my reality as I feel it to be rather than how I perceive it to be. This relationship of disposition to painting is actively manifested as each painting undergoes a series of re-workings until resolution comes in a solemn or silent state. As a result, what is left is something which truthfully suggests an unseen world, one which is felt.
Roger Lipsey wrote in An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art, that “If art matters at all, it will shed light on something more than itself.” Lipsey’s words ring true for what I consider to be the foundation and main goal of my practice, which is fundamentally the cultivation of a spiritual practice through painting. I believe painting is a process of inquiry and reflection and that a critical and disciplined practice does, or at least attempts to, move beyond being aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, I think art is most powerful when it lays bare the disposition of the artist and shows the poetic nature of the mind making sense of the world- in other words, finding its radiance. Such radiance highlights the undercurrent of our sentient lives, the search for meaning, by re-presenting images of the known world in such a way as to suggest a felt yet unseen dimension. World renowned mythologist, Joseph Campbell, when lecturing on the Imagery of Rebirth Yoga spoke of this kind of radiance, calling it…
…the revealing power, the power that is said to be in art. When, through the forms we experience the radiance…But when in art, the radiance is experienced and the fascination of the art object is that of discovering your own true radiance. Because there is only one true radiance, and that is the radiance of full consciousness. Then you have the awakening and the opening of the lead, so to say, to full realization. (Lecture 1.2.4 Imagery of Rebirth Yoga- The Seventh Cakra: Transcending Maya)
This radiance of consciousness is a kind of transformative experienced in relation to the artwork. The artwork is a pointer, an opener of worlds, allowing each viewer the opportunity and possibility to move towards those worlds. This radiance is experienced on a premise of faith that the artwork functions this way and is not merely decorative. By re-presenting images of the known world, art places in front of us a new way to encounter ourselves thus providing a kind of experience not readily accessible in the world. The artwork, then, is a vehicle which encapsulates the ineffability of both existence and essence. Art’s broader relationship to the world, at least for me, is one which deepens the quality of our mental lives.
With my exhibition Light of the World, I have tried to deepen my understanding of this special relationship through painting. It is the way I examine my place in the world and where I return to seek out a truthful resonance in the face of uncertainty that permeates existence. If the goal of my artistic practice is to cultivate a spiritual practice, then the act of painting is a way to locate myself in relation to this felt radiance. And in doing so, a rootedness in being has room to develop.
I wrote this up for my upcoming exhibition The Meeting and thought I should post this to give some insight into the things I have been working with and thinking about. Enjoy.
“If art matters at all, it will shed light on something more than itself.” (Roger Lipsey, An Art of Our Own: The Spiritual in Twentieth Century Art).
Sacred spaces are spaces of conviction. These spaces command something of the occupant and are an affirmation of belief in the form of architecture. There is a presentness I feel when inside such spaces that rouses a particular kind of silence in me that does not arise in other places. To inhabit these spaces is to move from awe to reflection to contemplation. Such spaces act as calibrating agents for the individual by withdrawing inward and taking time to be still, leaving all distractions and busyness outside. Over time, one develops patience and openness by inhabiting sacred spaces and learns to listen to the silence of both the physical space and that of the inner space. When this happens an active silence emerges as a meditative practice has begun. It is the experience of place that is taken into the studio to cultivate this particular silence. The studio, by extension, becomes a sacred space itself as it carves out a place to cultivate silence from daily, secular life. To continuously return to the studio is to be intentional about the role of such a space and the activity within as contrasted to daily life. It is a site of inquiry and reflection, of confrontation with one’s reason and faith, and of nurture. Inside the studio, one examines one’s life, bringing into view the mysteries which inflame the mind. In this way, it both clarifies and keeps present those allusive occurrences of the sacred which were felt in the sacred space. It’s about learning to see with “eyes of fire”, that is, to see into a sacred domain, the things that are felt but unseen. The most important aspect to the space is the presence of the mind within it.
Quaker Meeting House
Two years ago I became interested in the silent worship practices of those in the Quaker community. It is a practice which brings into focus the “Inner Light” in each individual through contemplative silence. The goal is to cultivate an inner spiritual knowledge while developing a relationship with the "Inner Light", or “Spirit”. If architecture is the physical representation of ideas and beliefs, then the Quaker Meeting House is a place of both austerity and humbleness. Its purpose is to elevate one’s thoughts by causing introspection in a space void of distraction. The space is sparse and poised, offering no more than what is necessary to encourage reverence. White plaster walls and ceilings contrast the lower portion of the space which is covered in medium dark wood. A sense of security is felt when sitting on the wood benches while the mind feels at ease due to seeing primarily white. This physical separation between wood and plaster creates a corresponding separation of body and mind. With the correct afternoon light the space comes alive from a gradual increase of illumination on the walls. This glow diminishes any noticeable separation between walls and ceiling, creating the acute sensation of being consumed in emptiness but also that of being enveloped in light. In this way, the Meeting House is a reminder of how one’s mind should be: quiet, poised, and devoid of unnecessary thoughts to allow the light to come into the mind and fill it. Thus, the use of contemplative silence as a way to cultivate this “Inner Light” is transformative by the relationship of interior building and interior mind.
Borrowing from the Quaker practice of silent worship, my paintings endeavor to unearth a sense of the sacred in the world. Architectural remnants act as anchor points to locations hovering between presence and absence. Layers of glazing produce luminosity and diaphanous atmospheres, inspiring stillness and contemplation. Each painting is worked and reworked, allowing images to disappear and emerge, until they reach a state of silence- a half step suspended between a pilgrimage and a conclusion. In this way, the work is more liminal than it is concrete and beckons towards that which is just on the precipice of comprehension.