Read about the books, music and short stories that inspired artist Zachari Logan and influenced his new exhibition Ghost Meadows. See Ghost Meadows, Logan’s first major solo exhibition in his hometown of Saskatoon, at Remai Modern until January 9, 2022.
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Wolfe
This novel is a ghost story drenched in flowers. Told over the span of a single day, it’s a stream of consciousness meditation on the fleeting nature of life, memory and one’s ever-shifting sense of selfhood in the face of time. There are many achingly beautiful observations about life that flow out of mundane passages describing errands and daily routine, it is a revelation!
Hejira Joni Mitchell (The entire album, start to finish)
My favourite album. In terms of song writing, this album is one of the best (if not the best) ever made, by one of (if not the best) songwriters ever. It is a masterpiece of honesty and self-reflection both external and internal. An odyssey in the truest sense, where Mitchell is sincere about her insignificance in the face of an ever-changing world. There are such rich vignettes of place and circumstance (several references to Saskatchewan) Song For Sharon is such a gift… I have this album circulating through my studio playlist all the time so how could it not be on this list.
Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway
I initially read this book about 10 or 12 years ago- and it stayed with me for many reasons (fireweed, common in Saskatchewan has appeared in many occasions in my drawings, in part because of this book). I re-read it again last year while in the midst of making this body of work. A multilayered, visually beautiful and also gut-wrenching novel at times. A story about two young Cree brothers sent to a residential school where they are renamed and forced to speak English, while being subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of the head priest. During their horrific time at the school, the Fur Queen, a fabulous, somewhat ambiguous trickster character appears to Champion (renamed Gabriel) and becomes a guide and protector of sorts throughout both the boy’s lives as they attempt to adjust to urban life. The brothers re-discover music and dance while coping with abuse in different ways. A remarkable book that explores the horrific depravity of Canadian colonialism, and the resilience of the main characters in the face of this evil. This book also shows how art can be a part of self-care and the healing process.
Green Light: Towards an Art of Evolution, (Leonardo Series) George Gessert.
This book explores the long history of human interventions into evolution, mainly focussing on examples of the manipulation of plants and animals for aesthetic reasons. Gessert writes about contemporary movements such as Bio Art contextualizing his own practice as an artist as well. He often praises wildflowers and weeds too. Below is a favourite quote:
“When we ignore the realms beyond consciousness, we ignore our connections to the larger community of living beings, most of which, over immense spans of time, have lived and died without once awakening. Plants are reminders of the structures that sustain consciousness. Plants are reminders of our forgotten selves.”
Landscapes: John Berger On Art, John Berger
The entire collection of writings in this book is wonderful, as Berger’s collections always are, but one essay, in particular, speaks volumes for me, the essay titled, The Basis of All Painting and Sculpture is Drawing, describes how drawing is about experiencing, internalizing and embodying that which one draws, Berger eloquently makes the case that drawing is totally fundamental to the practices of both painting and sculpture, stating among other things, that ‘Drawing is discovery; drawing is a way of seeing what is hiding under the surface…’
Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence, Timothy Morton
Such a timely book. Incredibly dense and beautifully playful. Needs to be read more than once for sure. Spotlighting human dread, self-awareness and melancholy about global disasters caused by our collective actions (agricultural societies) and how we arrived as a part of this moment (the Anthropocene) over a long timeline. Morton asks us to rethink our responses to being aware of ecologies of concern; to come to terms with the interconnectedness of all things on earth- that we are entwined with all things. There is no outside- only the deep, dark uncanniness of entanglement.
The Magus, John Fowles
I never want to describe this book too much to those that may not have read it yet. It’s brilliant on so many levels. I guess I put this on the list simply because it’s likely my favourite novel- so it’s never far from my mind, so it can’t not be an ongoing influence in some way… and I like to share it with as many people as possible. Other books by Fowles are wonderful as well, if you don’t know The Collector or The French Lieutenant’s Woman, for example, they are definitely worth a read as well.
Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama
What I love most about this book is how Schama articulates the notion of ‘landscape’ as a cultural product; a projection of the imagination. Schama looks to mythology, memory, and personal experiences of place to advance the idea of nature’s transformation into ‘landscape’ by human intervention. As Schama puts it, ”landscape is the work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock.” (p.7)
Foxes, Timothy Findlay (from the short story collection Stones)
A short story about a professor who comes in contact with a famed Japanese mask of a fox he has been searching for for a very long time. After putting the mask on, it appears he may be changing. A simple, but powerfully effective story about embodiment and transformation. I love this story and re-read it often.
Zachari Logan on the films that influenced Ghost Meadows
Aside from my list of books and music, there are also a few films I should mention (again, in no particular order) in all of these films, the landscape is in my understanding a main character… Kubrick’s, The Shining, (my favourite film), The Mill and the Cross by Lech Majewski- where the recreation of Breugel’s ‘The Procession to Calvary’ comes to life (literally) in filmic genius and cinematography, Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, Ari Aster’s Midsommar and Barry Jenkin’s stunning film Moonlight.
Limited edition Zachari Logan ceramic art available at the Art & Design Store
A collaboration between two artists, these spectacular porcelain vessels have been handthrown by Jay Kimball, then augmented with sgraffito and sculpted details by Zachari Logan. Available exclusively through the Art & Design Store at Remai Modern. Shop now
Artist Bio: Zachari Logan (b. 1980, Saskatoon) works mainly with large-scale drawing, ceramics and installation practices. Logan has exhibited widely throughout North America, Europe and Asia and is found in private and public collections worldwide, including; National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Remai Modern, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Leslie-Lohman Museum, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (NMOCA), 21cMuseums Hotel Collection and Thetis Foundation, among others.