Dark Matter / Gary Logan

Gary Logan, Dark Matter, 2014. Acrylic and paper on canvas. MOCRA collection.

Gary Logan (b. 1970)
Dark Matter, 2014
acrylic and paper on canvas
MOCRA collection
Photo by Kevin Lowder

About the work

Dark Matter blends science, history, and self-identity to explore concepts of de-colonization and “Blackness.” Gary Logan connects the hypothesis that “dark matter” accounts for about 85% of all matter in the universe, with his discovery that exactly 85% of his DNA is derived from African ancestors. The painting’s matte background, representing the negativity of a past devastated by slavery and oppression, contrasts with glossy masses that symbolize a vibrant Black identity resulting from the conjoining of oppression and rebirth. Logan says the painting is “also inspired by the Taoist concepts of balance, movement, flow, duality, and metamorphosis as a result of embracing the painful as well as the vibrant aspects of my racial heritage.”

Interestingly, Logan also links this painting to the experience of walking through a volcanic lava field in Northern Iceland, a natural manifestation of creativity and rebirth from destruction.  

Dark Matter was included in Elements, a 2019 solo exhibition of Logan’s work at MOCRA.

About the artist

Gary Logan
Gary Logan

Gary Logan was born on the island of Trinidad in 1970 and raised in the United States. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts in Painting from Boston University. During his time in Massachusetts, he also developed a career in education while initiating his artistic profession. He relocated to New York and New Jersey, working as an art educator in various public schools. Logan subsequently lived in São Paolo, Brazil, where he advanced his art career while exploring Brazil’s diverse landscape and culture. He currently resides in Miami, Florida, and devotes his time to painting, teaching, and directing a visual arts program at a school for the arts.

Along with individual and group exhibitions in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, São Paulo, and South Florida, his artwork has been highlighted in periodicals such as Bostonia magazine, and the literary journals Callaloo and AGNI. In 1999, he and poet Eric McHenry were awarded The Phillip Guston Prize for their artist collaboration featured in AGNI.

Visit Logan’s website.

The artist speaks

Logan says of his work, 

I choose to stray away from the predictable imagery that the art world often expects and demands of Black and gay artists. My goal is to create artwork that deftly explores concerns that are universal, such as our relationship to the Earth and matters of human identity and emotion. Some of my paintings therefore delve into the complex terrain of self-identity and self-definition; without having to rely on the limited iconography that is often anticipated from artists who are not in the racial or sexual mainstream.  

I utilize the concept of the sublime, to infuse my paintings with the same sense of awe, mystery, raw emotion (sentimentality) and grandeur that I admire from artists like Turner, Friedrich, Ma Yuan, Rothko, Kiefer, and Bradford, all of whom have utilized various aspects of landscape painting to evoke powerful human emotions, spirituality, signs of human conflict, or the complexity of the human condition. My work is a mixture of my fear for the demise of this planet, as much as it addresses equally jarring issues around race and sexuality. Hence, the genre of landscape painting, blended with some abstract elements, has been my means to best express my sentiments and contemplations as an artist.

More to explore

MOCRA’s “Artful Being” series features brief videos bring together works from the MOCRA collection with music—an invitation to spend a few minutes. In this installment, Dark Matter is paired with music composed and performed by Andrew Velez. The videography is by David Torrence.