While it is still gaining form, Sansar is already attracting both artists and those with an interest in art, and I’m slowly working my way through the art-related experiences currently available in the Atlas and dropping into whatever catches my eye. Places such as the Digital Arts Gallery, designed and curated by Mad Max, and which focuses on the work of digital artists from around the globe – which I admit piqued my curiosity for a very specific reason when I saw the Altas entry.
The setting is well conceived and executed. Visitors arrive in a small lobby area with windows to three sides offering a view of a late evening sky – it’s as if we’re high in a skyscraper somewhere, about to enter an exclusive gallery space. A larger hall opens off this foyer space, neatly dissected by a central display area of alcoves, and which offers choice of routes through the gallery: right and through the Featured Artist display, or left through the “collected artists” section.
The Featured Artist at the time of my visit was Adam Martinakis. It was seeing his name in the Atlas entry for the experience that caught my eye; I first encountered his digital sculptures in 2012 through a piece written for Don’t Panic. I was immediately struck by the depth of his work: digital it might be, but it carries with it a realism and texture which truly makes it physical and tangible. It’s hard not to look at them and feel you’re looking at a 3D creation, one which if you could touch them, would reward you with the feel of cut stone or slick paint finish beneath your finger tips; there is a marvellous quality to the filigree elements of Golden Boy (featured in this exhibition and seen above left) which is so beautifully rendered it presents a wonderful sense of it own existence in the physical world.
The images selected for this exhibition span Martinakis’ work from 2011 through to the present. Alongside of Golden Boy, and among his more established works offered here are Love for Light, The Departure of Innocense [sic] and The Remains of a Memory. His more recent work is also represented, and I found myself strongly drawn to Adam, rich in substance and metaphor, while Last Kiss is simply mesmerising. I do admit to hoping to see Baptised by Fire – Prometheus or The Divisions of Pleasure offered here, but only because both pieces made such an impression on me when seeing them for the first time five years ago. However, their absence in no way detracts from the exhibition.
To the left of the entrance the gallery displays selected works by Keith Webber Jr., with a focus on his Abstract Fractal series, the remarkable and simple absorbing, Martina Stipan, who at just 19 years of age is already renowned for her digital landscapes, Natalie Shau,and the remarkable Ben Heine with a trio of his remarkable digital portraits. To the rear of the gallery is art from famous music albums and series of panels by Zoran Cvetkovic and Zdravko Girov, tracing the history of Skopje from earliest times to the 20th century.
Digital Arts Gallery is beautifully minimalist in approach, offering the perfect environment in which to showcase the work of these artists. The lighting is almost perfect, thanks to the considered use of emitters (“almost” because Ben Heine’s Marilyn Monroe was unlit at the time of my visit). Even the looped music track feels appropriate to the gallery (although I’m admittedly biased towards music with a new age Celtic leaning, particularly when a Bear McCreary like hint weaves through a part of the music, as it does here).
This is an exhibition which can be visited and appreciated with or without a VR headset. When visiting in Desktop mode, I would suggest moving to first-person mode (F3) and touring the gallery to more fully appreciate the art. If you’re adept with Sansar’s (still basic) camera controls, then F4 and flycamming offers another good way to appreciate the art here (in fact, I admit to spending a lot more time flycamming in Sansar than walking or running at the moment!).
Mad Max is open to feedback on the gallery, and to suggestions for future artists he might exhibit there. I have a couple of names I’ll endeavour to get to him for consideration. Should you visit and think of an artist you’d like to offer to Max, contact details are on the rear wall of the gallery.