Moni’s Forbidden Fruit at Nitroglobus in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

Monique “Moni” Beebe makes a further return to Dido Haas’ Nitroglobus Roof Gallery to mark the start of the year, with her latest exhibition Forbidden Fruit.

Moni is one of the most sensuous, evocative artist and – given she is generally the subject of her own work – models in Second Life, somthing I’ve noted in the past, as such I’ve been looking forward to seeing her latest exhibition since Dido tipped me the wink that Moni would be making a further return to Nitroglobus. She has the ability to present studies that are rich in mood, sensuality, nuance, story and sexuality – the latter without relying on being blatant provocation.  Rather, they are genuine works of art that would be fully at home in any physical world gallery as they would in a virtual setting.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

This latter point is very much proven with the selection of work forming Forbidden Fruit, which marks something of a departure from Moni’s previous exhibitions at Nitroglobus – Hidden Faces , Sensuality, and Changing Moods – in that for some of the pieces here, Moni has found inspiration in the work of a another artist, as Dido explains:

Moni got inspired by a RL exhibition of famous Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf, which she visited last Spring in the Gemeente Museum The Hague. Especially the mood of the early series Squares and Chessmen by Mr Olaf you will notice are reflected in some of the images of this present exhibition.

Such is Moni’s compositional eye that she presents a unique perspective on Olaf’s work (take Stone as an example) which is far from derivative – but which would nevertheless be completely at home in an exhibition such as Chessmen.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

For me, the power of Moni’s work is her ability to offer a tale of sensuality through pose and / or focus on bodily curve without necessarily utilising exposing nudity or full facial expression (which is not to say nudity is not present in some of the pieces here). Take the titular Forbidden Fruit, for example. It carries a rich sensuality that evokes feelings of desire bordering on lust, heightened by the use of clothing and the hiding of Moni’s eyes under the wrap. This particular piece also highlights another maturing aspect of Moni’s work: her ability to layer narrative and images; in this case the pairing of a woman with prominently placed apples offers a suggestiveness of story that reaches all the way back to Eve, the apple and a certain serpent – and what form the knowledge may have taken.

There is also a richness of self about Moni’s work that I again find attractive perhaps more than other artists who produce images using their avatars as models; Moni offers subtle insights into her personality and nature – with the emphasis on subtle. This heightens the response to her work that can reach beyond examining any single image or selection of images, to tickle the desire to know her personally.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Forbidden Fruit

Rounded-out with lounge, a sculpture by Kaiju Kohime that sits perfectly with Moni’s images, this is again a marvellous exhibition by an exceptionally talented artist and visualist.

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FionaFei’s shuǐmò Reflection in Second Life

Shui Mo Gallery: Reflection

Shuǐmò, or shuǐmòhuà (suiboku-ga in Japanese or “ink wash”), is a type of East Asian ink wash painting that uses different concentrations of black ink to create an image. It first emerged in Tang dynasty China (618–907), and is marked by the emphasis of the brushwork being on the perceived spirit or essence of the subject, rather than directly imitating its appearance.

Within Second Life, it has become a form of art exquisitely brought to life by FionaFei, who uses it to produce the most extraordinary 3D art installations. I was first introduced to her work  at One Billion Rising in 2019 prior to visitingd her Shui Mo Gallery to see Wo Men Dakai, an art-as role-play environment she created using shuǐmò that had its inspiration on Joss Whedon’s Firefly series (see: Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life).

I made a return to the gallery on December 10th, after Miro Collas pointed me to an announcement Fiona made via Flickr concerning her latest shuǐmò piece. Entitled Reflection, it presents a to-scale painting as a marvellous 3D environment, about which Fiona notes.

In this exhibit, I am utilising Second Life’s virtual platform to provide a new perspective on this traditional art style by adding depth, making what has traditionally always been portrayed as 2D paintings into 3D sculptures. When the viewer looks into the art, they are looking into a 3D space, and depending on the angle they are viewing it from, the art changes.

– FionaFei, describing her shuǐmò art

Shui Mo Gallery: Reflection

In this respect, Fiona is very much what Bryn Oh refers to as an Immersivist: an artist who makes use of virtual 3D environments such that the sense of immersion felt by an observer is more intense because as well as viewing the art as a static piece, they can become an active participant in it simply by moving through the piece and witnessing it from different angles.

In this respect, I do recommend stopping at the entrance to observe Reflection as a static observer first (perhaps in Mouselook). This reveals its richness as a painting. Then, after you’ve done this, either move or flycam around it to reveal the additional depth it presents as it beautifully transitions from traditional Chinese ink painting into a 3D sculpture that reveals many facets, each a painting in its own right.

Reflection is actually one of two shuǐmò installations on offer. The other might be described as a foyer / events area, sitting immediately beyond the huge red doors of the landing point. This includes elements from Fiona’s SL16B installation Umbrella Landscape. Interactive, these sit as part of a landscape where water falls to a pond of Koi and on which interactive umbrellas float. Painted board walks running from the red doors provide access to Reflections (to the left as you face the exhibition space) and a second gallery area to the right.

This second space contains Rising, an installation Fiona created for the One Billion Rising in Second Life 2019, part of the annual global event to raise awareness of the plight of women and girls who face violence and abuse in their daily lives, and the staggering fact 1 in 3 women on the planet is beaten or raped during her lifetime.

Shui Mo Gallery: Rising

Rising represents those women who have experienced abuse who have finally been able to break free of the pain that they’ve experienced, literally rising from the darkness they have experienced. The particle figures are all hand-drawn, while the abuse they have suffered is additionally indicated by the bruised hands also being lifted up out of the darkness.

Nor is this all. The entrance hall containing the landing point includes a collection of 6 more pieces of art by Fiona. These are 3D pieces that represent scroll paintings combining both shuǐmò and guóhuà (“natural”) styles of Chinese. These are exquisite pieces, some of which are animated, and all of which are available for sale.

Shui Mo Gallery: paintings

Fiona’s art is captivating in both form and style, marvellously capturing a traditional form of Chinese art and bringing new life to it.

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Berthe Morisot at the Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life

The Museum of Fine Arts: Berthe Morisot

In September 2019, I toured the Museum of Fine Arts with curator Tonem (see: The Museum of Fine Arts in Second Life), and was impressed with the care and attention that has been put into the gallery’s operation in making it as much akin to the experience of visiting a physical world art museum / gallery as possible.

Since that original article was posted, the team behind the Museum of Fine Arts have been continuing to develop the museum’s grounds, and also recently opened the second part of their exhibition of art by les trois grandes dames of French Impressionism, so this gave me a reason to pop back and spend time once more at the museum.

The Museum of Fine Arts: Berthe Morisot, self-portrait, 1882

Having featured the art of Marie Bracquemond in the first part of the grades dames exhibit, this second part features the work of Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (1841- 1895), and it can be found in the Lindal Kidd terrace gallery space, which had now been increased to two side-by-side pavilions behind the main museum building (just enter the main building and past through the ground-floor exhibition spaces and exit through the rear doors to find the terrace).

Morisot was born into a family enmeshed in the arts: her father, while local administrator, was trained in architecture, while her mother was the great-niece of Jean-Honoré Fragonard, one of the most prolific Rococo painters of the ancien régime. So, even allowing for art being a natural part of her education, she and her sisters perhaps received additional encouragement in pursuing it. This encouragement continued through her early career, which brought her into contact with artists such as Édouard Manet and Oscar-Claude Monet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot.

Her own work was not publicly exhibited for the first time until 1864 – largely because she was a hard self-critic, destroying a lot of her early pieces because she regarded them as not being good enough – particularly her early work in oil paints, a medium she particularly struggled with initially. However, from the early 1870s Morisot began to be exhibited more regularly, gained a patron – private art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. By the late 1870s, she was regarded as the “one real Impressionist in this group”, and judged Morisot among the best of the impressionists by many art critics.

What is particularly engaging about the exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts is that it amounts to perhaps the large single gathering of Morisot’s work to be seen in the world today outside of the Louvre in Paris. As such, it is a must-see for anyone with a love of classical art, whilst again demonstrating the uniqueness of SL itself as a means to present such a collection to what amounts to a global audience.

The Museum of Fine Arts: Berthe Morisot

In keeping with the Museum’s approach, individual pieces are offered to scale to one another and of a size equating to how they would appear in the physical world when standing before them. This can make individual paintings a little small when viewing them and call into use some steady Alt-camming, but the effort is worth it. In addition, each is displayed with an information card giving the title, date, medium and provenance of the piece – all of which can be viewed in local chat by clicking on a painting.

This is another engaging, engrossing exhibition of physical world art, offering a unique opportunity to appreciate the work of one of the great names of the French Impressionist movement.

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Life and moods at Vibes Gallery in Second Life

Vibes Gallery: Paola Mills

Vibes Gallery, curated by Eviana Robbiani, is currently home to an untitled exhibition featuring Sunset Theas, Paola Mills, Lyack Glenwalker, Megan Prumier, and Aurora Donner. Given some of the images involve nudity, it should perhaps be considered an exhibition that is NSFW.

Immediately inside the entrance to the gallery is a quartet of images by Sunset Theas that follow a theme of their own, perhaps best described as condensing the seven stages of life into four evocative monochrome images, entitled, Embryonic, Birth, Life and Death. As the titles imply, each captures a moment in time and life.

Vibes Gallery: Sunset Theas

The use of monochrome, soft focus and life and shadow serve to make each of these pieces an intriguing study that fully captures the essence of their titles. Take Embryonic, for example. The use of depth of field and the off-centre capture are so suggestive of an ultrasound scan, with just enough form and substance for us to understand what we are seeing.

And so the images progress: Birth using light and shadow and a huddled form that offers the idea of a babe is dark swaddling; Life offers a image of the full vitality of a person in their prime, the use of a mask preventing us from being drawn into studying the model, but considering that broader idea of life. Then depth, with it simple setting, soft focus and back view of a naked body without adornment of clothing or within the setting is simply glorious – if such a term can be used – in its presentation of the body’s emptiness in death.

Vibes Gallery: Megan Prumier

At the far end of the gallery space are four images by Megan Prumier that again offer a theme; this one using reflections in the form of overlaid images of the female body. Each displays a considered use of technique that makes the nudity within the images secondary to their narrative. Take Warm Shivers, for example; the marvellous placement of the image, one copy superimposed over the other wonderfully suggests both someone feeling the cold in their nudity whilst at the same time presenting the idea of receiving warm comfort from someone close.

Between these two groups lie another set of four images by Paola Mills, and two pairs of images by  Lyack Glenwalker and Aurora Donner. I admit to being unfamiliar with the latter two, but again, on the strength of the two images presented here, Lyack has a talent for producing images rich in narrative. Certainly, his images reflect the stories inherent in the four pieces offered by Paola, while Aurora’s pair of studies round-out the exhibition nicely.

Vibes Gallery: Lyack Glenwalker

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Captivated by FionaFei’s art in Second Life

FionaFei: Shuǐmò

Shuǐmò, or shuǐmòhuà (suiboku-ga in Japanese), is a type of East Asian ink wash painting that uses different concentrations of black ink to create an image. It first emerged in Tang dynasty China (618–907), before spreading to Japan (14th century), Korea and to India. Beside the use of black ink in place of colours, it is also marked by the emphasis of the brushwork being on the perceived spirit or essence of the subject, rather than directly imitating its appearance.

It is also a form of art that has been quite marvellously brought to life by Second Life and physical world artist FionaFei as the basis of her latest art exhibition. This features a core element called Wo Men Dakai, which Fiona describes thus:

Wo Men Dakai (Chinese for “My Door Opens”) is an art installation I’ve created in the style of Chinese ink brush painting. The purpose of the space is for a role-play Firefly-based RP where my RP character YiLi graduates into a Registered Companion. However, the inspiration for the creation is from my own personal artistic journey in real life and in second life, and most of it really stems from who I am as an artist in both realities.

– FionaFei

FionaFei: Shuǐmò

While not everyone might be familiar with Joss Whedon’s (too) short-lived science fiction TV series Firefly (from which I freely admit taking my first name in Second Life!), having such knowledge is not s prerequisite for any visit to, or appreciation of, this installation.

From the landing point, visitors are invited to walk along unrolled scrolls of xuan paper, the traditional material for Shuǐmò painting. On these are painted the Chinese symbols for Wo Men Dakai as they point the way to a pair of great red doors. When touched, these will slowly open (just give them time) to reveal the gallery space proper.

FionaFei: Shuǐmò

This is a spherical space that is the embodiment of shuǐmò; a Chinese water garden wherein all the major features are produced as ink wash images / pieces: the bridge, the lilies floating on the water, the rocks on which the art is displayed, the overhead rocks from which water falls in black-and-white lines to fill the pool of the water lily garden.

FionaFei: Shuǐmò

Shuǐmò might be described as an ancient Oriental form of what we in the west call impressionism; a form of art where – as noted above – the aim is to capture the essence, not imitate the physical.

So, for example, when painting an animal, the ink wash painter seeks to present the animal’s temperament, not is muscles, sinews and bone structure. And so it is with the gallery structures here: the form and essential essence of the bridge, the lilies and surrounding plants are provided, while the intrinsic details: complete railings on the bridge, the details veins on leaves and petals is not so relevant.

Within the space are two marvellous and contrasting selections of art.

The first is a trio of 3D pieces, again in a traditional Chinese style bordering on shuǐmò, but which use add splashes of colour – red and green – that, together with the animations – bring a sense of life and vitalities to the pieces in an completely enticing manner.

The second is a beautiful set of charcoal on newsprint studies of the human body. These fourteen drawing offer the strongest contrast to the shuǐmò theme, presenting as they do a very western approach to anatomically detailed art featuring the human body, male or female – but which, through the use of charcoal in varying concentrations, nevertheless contain within them an echo of shuǐmò.

“I see life and my journey as a painting. It can be forever an evolving piece,” Fiona notes of her art. “At any given time, you think you’ve reached the end of it, but you can always add to it, layer it, and change it. In a sense, each brush stroke is like a footprint.”

In recognition of this, and as a part of the interactive nature of the exhibit, visitors are invited to take a selection of footprints (shoes, bare feet and paws), wear them, and leave their own marks (albeit temporary) as they “follow their own path” through the installation. There are also some koi carp gifts available at the landing point as well.

FionaFei: Shuǐmò

A truly marvellous exhibition by a wonderfully talented artist – but don’t just take my word for it. Go and see for yourself. My thanks to Pieni for the pointer!

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