Monochrome portraits and landscapes in Second Life

Kultivate The Edge, August 2019

Now open at Kultivate Magazine’s The Edge Gallery is the August-September exhibition of black-and-white / monochrome art and photography.

The featured artists for the exhibition are Tatjab, MTH63, Wintergeist, Chic Aeon, Belua Broadfoot, Illrya Chardin, Sophie Congrego, Roxaane Fyanucci, Euridice Qork, and someone called Inara Pey, who is really just along for the ride. The artists offer a rich mix of portraiture and landscape images in their selections, as well as a mix of styles that make for an engaging exhibition.

Kultivate The Edge, August 2019 – Tatjab

While the range of images is both deep and broad, I admit to finding myself repeatedly gravitating towards two of the artists in particular. The first is Tatjab – also known as tattoo artist (hence his SL and Twitter handle of “Tatjab”), painter, and pencil portrait artist, Jesse Boren. Located on the upper mezzanine level of the gallery and facing the entrance, he presents fourteen pencil portraits taken from the physical world that are utterly stunning.

Ranging from fantasy pieces (such as portraits of Cthulhu) through personal pieces (Blaze, Leland and Pam’s Grandpa, for example) to those of famous individuals such as Barrack Obama, Sir Anthony Hopkins (as Hannibal Lecter) and Clint Eastwood (as Josey Wales), these are truly marvellous pieces, one and all; the manner in which the very essence and life force of Hopkins, Eastwood (a picture I could barely take my eyes off of!) and guitarist Justin Furstienfled has been captured is just amazing – as is true of all the other pieces Tatjab offers here.

The Edge, August 2019 – Euridice Qork

Just to the left of Tatjab’s area in the gallery are nine pieces by Euridice Qork. All are avatar portraits and studies, but again I found myself repeatedly drawn to them because each and every one is powerfully evocative in its own very individual way. Within them all, one can find a sense of the subject’s self or can feel an emotional response or been drawn to thinking about a certain era – or perhaps all three, and more.

Take, for example the rightmost image of the woman at the microphone. While her style of dress might be a little more risqué than would likely have been the case at the time, the pose, the soft-focus background, the poise of the fingers of her left hand – all evoke a sense of 1940-1950s America, and a time when both jazz groups and big bands fronted by a vocalist where the means of a Saturday evening’s entertainment. Indeed, each time I look at this particular image, I cannot help but hear the words of Blue Moon, accompanied by a lone trumpet playing in the background.

Two other artists exhibiting here to and to whom I was drawn are Chic Aeon and MTH63 each  of whom can be found on the lower floor of the gallery.

Chic opts for a series of close-up images of items in-world. In this, I found the images to carry an echo of a technique that has become a signature of Melusina Parkin, and which I find particularly engaging: close-ups that suggest they are part of a large scene or story. In their presentation, be they focused on suitcases stacked one upon another or an oar in an aged and damaged rowing boat or the partially open drawers of a dresser, they drawer us to them, encouraging us into them in an attempt to peek beyond their borders, so to speak, and discern the wider story that may be just out of sight.

MTH63 offers a series of images of locations within Second Life, but rather than present them as “simple” monochrome pieces, he offers all but one of them as “negatives”, or perhaps reverse processed images (as used in the motion picture industry). Thus we’re presented with five unique views of settings within Second Life, with the one “positive” image sitting within them as the focal “glue” to MTH63’s “album”.

Kultivate The Edge, August 2019 – Chic Aeon (l) and MTH63

Truth be told, all of the artists featured in this exhibition offer a unique perspective on SL photography, be their work focused on avatars or landscapes or a mix of the two. The only potential exception is yours truly – and I say this not out of any sense of false modesty or to seek praise, but simply because I do not consider myself an artist. My images are purely intended for illustrative purposes within this blog; they are not posed, nor do they share depth of creative nuance evident in the other images, be it with framing, lighting, post-processing, and so on. As such, I count myself fortunate to be included  in an exhibition where there are some genuinely breath-taking pieces.

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