Brandon Logan grew up in Stromness, Orkney’s second town. And it was here as a young boy he first walked into The Pier Arts Centre and encountered its outstanding collection of British Modernism.
Around fifteen years on, Logan is an artist with a studio in Stromness. As we talk on the phone, he says that works in The Pier’s collection by Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo are one his earliest visual memories. ‘Their work is so present in my life. Hepworth’s handling of nature, moulding of light, interiority and exteriority have been pretty informative for me,’ explains Logan. Our conversation travels on. Logan mentions George Mackay Brown the celebrated Orcadian poet who died in 1996 and his book, 'An Orkney Tapestry'. Weaving back and forth in time, Brown’s narrative provides an alternative to linear storytelling, believes Logan.
Logan’s artwork is in many ways a brilliant hybrid of both weaving and painting; craft and art and the linear and the abstract. They are constructions that flirt dangerously but deliciously with precariousness. Logan works with lengths of string. He arranges the string in parallel lines, and then takes a paint brush and covers the string in paint. Once dry, he incrementally adds further layers of paint. Once the layering is complete and completely harden, he gently chips away at the dried paint to leave an exquisite lattice work structure. The paint acting both as ‘flesh’ to the string but also its structural support. Once flimsy string is now a load-bearer of paint, a rigid component of an abstract composition. Logan describes his work in seemingly unfriendly terms, as anti-social or in the least stand-offish. 'It can’t be worn or folded, unlike fabric,’ he says, and we agree this fragility seems so appropriate for this current age. His abstract compositions appear to be teetering on the brink of collapse – the paint both acting as vital support but also potentially the final straw.
It’s a process that he devised through repeated experimentation while a student at Edinburgh College of Art where he studied both practical art and art history. He relished the opportunity to move between the two disciplines and to be able to spend large tracts of time in his ECA studio exploring ideas and possibilities, pushing materials and processes to their limits and beyond. On graduation last year he was awarded ECA’s prestigious Astaire Art Prize.
And he’s been busy ever since. Last autumn he had a solo show at Zembla Gallery in the Scottish boards; and earlier this year he exhibited in the RSA New Contemporaries at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and was awarded the RSA Carnegie Scholarship.
Logan’s gentle but highly disciplined interrogation into the solid and the barely visible is something he puts down in part to living on Orkney. An archipelago of islands off the north easterly coast of Scotland, its specific physicality was heightened for Logan when he participated in Scotland + Venice Learning Programme in 2017. An initiative of Creative Scotland which offers students a professional development, he worked on artist Rachel Maclean’s presentation. And it afforded Logan the opportunity to explore another archipelago of islands, this time Venice and its lagoon, set in the northern stretch on the Adriatic Sea. ‘It was a remarkable experience, water and watery forms in southern light, a kind of parallel to Orkney.’
Logan's work Bear Hug, 2019, will be exhibited at Scotland House London, alongside works from the Fleming Collection, over the next year. A reception to present Logan's work to the public has been postponed due to the current pandemic crisis. Follow the Fleming Collection on social media or by signing up to our newsletter to be the first to hear when this event will take place later in the year to see the artist in coversation with James Knox, Fleming Collection Director, and see the artwork at Scotland House.