Zachari Logan

POOL 1, AFTER MARY DELANY

2015

Pastel on black paper


Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York, NY
Canadian artist Zachari Logan uses the luscious, chalk-like medium of pastels to achieve the effect of pigment floating on the inky surface of black paper. The uncoated drawings showcase the artist’s exquisite skill in conjuring the bloom of a rose, the suggestion of powdery pollen, and the tiny hairs of a leaf.

Logan is inspired by the group of Victorian British artists known as the Pre-Raphaelites (so-called because of their dedication to Renaissance masters before Raphael). In Logan’s Pool I and Pool 3, he was also inspired by the work of an 18th-century British artist, Mary Delany, who was known for her “paper-mosaicks,” delicate collages of cut paper showing botanical images. Delaney usually showed her flowers, as Logan does here, against a black background in order to throw the vivid colors into bas-relief.

With its deep folds of dark drapery, Composition 3 conjures an empty shroud and suggests the Victorians’ obsession with mourning. Much as James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) famously explored how to paint white on white in Symphony in White, No .1: The White Girl, Logan experiments with different tonalities and textures of black on black.

In his Pool pieces, the artist creates a mille-fleurs pattern, translated as “thousand flowers.” This refers to a covered all-over design that shows many different plants and flowers on a solid background. This kind of patterning was often found in Medieval European tapestries, and made a popular revival with the designs of William Morris in the 19th century.