January 6th 2022 saw the opening of Awakening, an exhibition of art by Clau Dagger, which is being held at the Into The Future Art Gallery, a part of the Kondor Art Centre, operated by Hermes Kondor.
Specialising in avatar studies, Clau is an artist photographer whose work I’ve not previously seen exhibited in-world, but who has – as this exhibition demonstrates – a talent for creating images that not only present her avatar, but offer an entire story within – and beyond – their frame. As someone who always tends to look for a narrative within a picture, this makes her work particularly fascinating to me.
Comprising over 30 images spread across the three levels of the gallery building, the art within Awakening presents an visually engaging mix of studies that are richly expressive in terms of their colour and presentation, and which offer a range of themes and stories. From “simple” pictures celebrating the seasons, through to those focused on fantasy, horror, science fiction and glamour, with dips into literature and film, this is a collection that will capture the eye and offer a richness of story that extends will beyond the framing of each picture on its own.
While there are many who practice the art of avatar study and in creating single-frame stories with their images; Clau’s work stands apart in the level of detail presented in each piece. From backdrop through props, to angle, framing, focus and pose, everything within each picture is brought together not just the create an image, but to create a world that lives beyond the limits of each image.
One aspect of this “larger than the frame” story aspect of Clau’s work is her conscious directing of her avatar’s eyes. Rather than looking out of the image towards the camera, Clau frequently directs her avatar’s gaze to a point off-camera, with the rest of her avatar’s pose set to suggest a reaction to something out-of-frame and entirely separate to the camera’s position. This gives these pieces – such as Ritual Night, Holy Gral [sic] and Cabell (as three examples) – a cinematic feel, we are caught in a moment of something wider, that were the camera pan around, we’d see more of the story and the action would resume.
Another factor that brings a number of these pieces to life is their richness of colour. Often with avatar studies, there is a tendency to tone down colour in post-processing an image, to add “natural” haze or “natural” light. While this is true in several of the pieces within this exhibit, there are also pieces here where the colour has either been left untouched or perhaps enhanced (e.g. Supernatural, Under the Holiday Tree, Spring Fae and Metamorphosis) that further intensifies their framing and story.
All of which makes for an exhibition that is genuinely worth visiting, one that lifts avatar studies to a new dimension of expression.
- Into the Future Gallery, Kondor Art Centre (Waka, rated Moderate)