Joanna Logue paints beautiful, complex, color-saturated paintings of the Maine landscape. She moved to the state from her native Australia in 2017, settling in a small village on Mt. Desert. In this relatively short time, she has come to know the island landscape intimately through her extensive hikes into the hidden corners of its woods, marshes, and mountains. Her views are not the spectacular vistas of Thomas Cole and Frederic Church, whose transcendental paintings of nature helped popularize the island as a place of tourism in the mid-19th century. Instead, Logue paints from within the landscape—the dense tangle of the deep woods, reflections on a boggy pond, and the changing colors of the seasons. Like John Marin and John Walker, two artists she admires, her paintings balance on the knife edge between abstraction and representation. Nature is presented close-up, encompassing, challenging. She says, "My paintings need to be tough and innovative but soft and seductive at the same time." She uses various painting tools to animate each area of the composition, extending the image beyond its edges—a reminder that we are seeing just a piece of the much larger whole.
Joanna Logue was born in the Hunter Valley in North South West Australia. She graduated from the City Art Institute with a BA in Visual Arts in 1986 and a Graduate Diploma in Painting in 1987. Since then, she has had 22 solo exhibitions and has exhibited extensively in major cities throughout Australia and internationally. Logue received the Country Energy Prize for Landscape Painting in 2006 and the Central West Regional Artist Award in 2009. She has also been selected as a finalist in the Fleurieu Art Prize, the Norvill Landscape Painting Prize, the Paddington Landscape Painting Prize, and the NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize. In 2014, she was awarded a residency in Bruny Island, Tasmania. Her work is in significant corporate, private, and public collections. Logue lives and works on Mount Desert Island in Maine and from her studio at Essington Park, Australia.
Relocating to the USA, to an island off the coast of Maine has inspired huge shifts in my studio process and the continuing development of my visual language. Having spent nearly 40 years painting the Australian landscape and referencing a particular painting tradition, it felt somewhat disorienting and daunting to be investigating a different terrain. We all know what it feels like to be immersed in a new culture and landscape - everything shifts, particularly perception. What I discovered and hadn’t predicted was how helpful it was to look towards other artists who have painted North America, for visual tips and clues. I saw two seminal exhibitions when I first came to Maine: ‘Marsden Hartley’s Maine’ at the Met Breuer in New York and ‘John Walker - From Seal Point’ at the Centre for Maine contemporary art. Both exhibitions not only inspired a new way of seeing, but opened my heart up to this place. And then last year I was lucky enough to be in London and saw the Milton Avery exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, which seemed to be the hidden key. All three painters are best known for taking inspiration from the Maine landscape and there seems to be a cohesive homogenous language running through the work. They have all adopted a reductive approach by paring down and doing away with extraneous detail, stylizing the landscape with a strong undercurrent of pattern. And curiously, this is the way I began to experience the landscape in Maine, through the eyes and guidance of these painters.
Another seminal experience was attending the New York Studio School drawing marathon, with its curriculum based on observation and a critical approach to abstraction. This process began with observing the landscape and pushing past the threshold of where I might have thought the piece was complete. The works were built on subsequent drawings, with a focus on how one drawing informed the next. Although the landscape has always been a departure point, the drawing marathon affirmed my studio practice. The point of departure essentially now happens in the studio through referencing my own paintings or quoting particular motifs, using pastiche and cutting and pasting of ideas. This has allowed more room for memory, the imagination and a deeper emotional translation.
All of the works in this exhibition were made in an intense period of relative isolation over six months, during which I was passionately reading the poems of Mary Oliver - mostly inspired by nature set in the New England landscape, and the writings of the environmentalist Wendel Berry, both new to me since moving to America.