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Updated: September 1, 2010 21:03 IST

A life in colour

DIVYA KUMAR
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Designer Andrew Logan. Photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu Designer Andrew Logan. Photo: R. Ragu

Andrew Logan's works don't stop with celebrating life; they make people smile. Divya Kumar meets the designer, sculptor and painter

The hotel room is all muted tones of olive green and cream, and I'm worried. It doesn't seem like the right backdrop to photograph the famously colourful designer, sculptor and painter, Andrew Logan.

Then he emerges, resplendent in a pink, orange and green pant-suit (with sunny yellow socks and bejewelled black shoes) and a glowing piece of his signature mirrored jewellery at his neck. “You don't need to worry about colour,” he says with a twinkle.

That's all right, then.

An interview with Logan is a fascinating journey through four decades of fabulous art and fashion, and even more fabulous friends and parties. A distinctive figure in the world of British art, Logan has spent the time since he finished qualifying as an architect at Oxford in the 1960s being ‘determinedly alternative'.

“In the U.K., there's a system within the art world,” Logan says, adding wryly, “I'm not part of that system.”

His objective from the beginning has been very simple — to infuse a little magic and happiness into people's lives. “My work is about celebrating life and making people smile, even if for a little while,” he says. “You'll find very few artists doing that; it's such a simple message, yet so little used.”

So his quirky, one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces, for instance, are all bright colour and glittering pieces of mirror and glass, with, more often than not, a smiley face worked in. Even the vast art installation project he's currently working on in Chennai for the new Hyatt hotel on Anna Salai is cheerfully, colourfully avant-garde, based on bees and flowers and the theme of interdependence.

And his ‘Alternative Miss World' event — which has been around since the 1970s and is the subject of a recent documentary film — is all about imagination, transformation and a lot of crazy, wonderful fun, where people (a colourful cast of characters over the years) turn out in outrageous costumes.

“I call it a surreal art event for all-round family entertainment,” he smiles. “I carry on with it because it's all in fun — there's no huge money involved or sponsorship. People don't enter to win; they just want to be part of the event. And I've always loved giving parties, ever since I was 10 years old!”

That's also the reason his museum — The Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture — was opened in Wales, in 1991, making Logan the first living U.K. artist to have his own museum. “My sculptures are just there, to be looked after and to be enjoyed, without all the implications of exhibiting at a gallery,” says the artist, who grew up in the Cotswolds.

Otherworldly sculptures

While these otherworldly sculptures and installations reflect his love of the fantastic and the magical (the Cosmic Egg, displayed at the American Museum of Visionary Art, Baltimore, and his Pegasus series, for example), his larger-than-life abstract portraits of friends and family, the famous and the infamous, reflect his love for people and their eccentricities (many are displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, London).

And all his works reflect his obsession with mirrors — specifically broken ones. “People tell me, ‘Oh, you must have so much bad luck!'. I say, if you remake the broken mirrors into the most fabulous thing ever seen, how could it be bad luck?” says Logan with a grin. “I just love how broken mirrors fracture images — it's like looking through a hole and seeing another world!”

Over the years, he's become a well-known figure in a number of worlds — fashion, fine arts and the performing arts — though he is frequently accused of not being a ‘serious artist'. “They say, ‘You can't possibly be an artist because you like to dress up and show off',” he says casually.

But fans of his work aren't complaining. They're just glad to be part of his ‘Worldwide Happy Club'. And Logan is clearly not troubled. He just lives in his — what else — fabulous glass house, with its sunshine yellow walls, along with his better half, Mike Davis, in London. He conducts workshops at the Jaipur festival every year and spends every winter in a 250-year-old palace in the middle of a coconut grove in Goa.

“February in London is dark, cold and miserable, and I've had enough of those,” he says, smiling. “For the rest of my life, I've decided to spend it somewhere lovely and warm.”

It's all quite as magical as his art, really.

Keywords: Andrew Logan

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