An artistic Masquerade in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Masquerade – Lou Shadow and Calypso Applewhyte

Masquerade is the title of an ensemble exhibition at DiXmiX Gallery that opened on June 20th, 2019. It features images by 34 Second Life photographers that have been selected by Dixmix Source, the gallery’s curator, along the theme of masks (which also encompasses the likes of helmets face masks, gas masks, make-up as a mask, as well as the more traditional masquerade mask suggested by the title.

Occupying all three halls of the gallery, the exhibition comprises a one or two pieces from each of the selected artist; they in turn comprise: Algezares Magic, Aniki Seetan, ByrneDarkly Cazalet, Calypso Applewhyte, Catherine Nikolaidis, Edie Horngold, Ember Adored, Gaus, Génesis Rodriguez, Guen Gothly, Izabela Navarathna, Jaggy, Kimmy Littleboots, Kimmy Ridley, Krizze Sparrowhawk, Laura Mrs S, Lou Shadow, Maloe Vansant, Megan Prumier, Mila Maesar, Ornella Batriani, Pam, Purple Leonis, Ryleigh Theas, Shocoon, Sinon Vale, Sonic, Tania Tebaldi, Tiya Aura, Tralala Loordes, Valenska Voljeti, Vallys, Wicca Merlin and Dixmix himself.

DiXmiX Gallery: Masquerade – ByrneDarkly Cazalet and Tiya Aura

Given the broad spread of photographers, this is unsurprisingly a richly mixed exhibition with wide-ranging styles and themes, with one or two of the images perhaps stepping into the realm of NSFW. Given the focus is headgear, the themes touch on science-fiction, fantasy (notably some darker shades, rather than perhaps the more wistful), adult games, etc.

Such is the volume of work here that this could easily be the kind of exhibition that desensitises the visitor to the subject matter (“Oh, look another avatar wearing a mask!”). However, through his selection and curation of the images, Dixmix utterly avoids this, putting on a display so richly diverse, and with the majority of the images offering a depth of narrative that extends well beyond their frames, that the exhibition is captivating throughout.

DiXmiX Gallery: Masquerade – Sonic and Guen Gothly

The diversity of work on display means that picking out individual pieces is an impossible task: each has its own attraction and most – as noted – have their own distinct story to tell. As such, this very much is an exhibition that should be witnessed first-hand.

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Finding Kusama with Cecilia Nansen in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Cecilia Nansen

Finding Kusama is the title of Cecilia Nansen’s latest exhibition, which is currently being hosted by DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source.

I’ve long been an admirer of Cecilia’s photography. She has an evocative, emotive style that offers a rich vein of narrative – but Finding Kusama is something of a departure from Cecilia’s usual approach to her work, as she herself notes.

Kusama came to me with her dots, dots, dots and what I admire so much in art myself; femininity, minimalism, simplicity and clean lines. Meeting her, I knew I had to ‘play with her’ and find my inspiration in her universe. Pop art is not my usual style, but Kusama pulled me in. She made my brain bubble in ideas, like a child with a hundred pastels and a brush.

– Cecilia Nansen on Finding Kusama

DiXmiX Gallery: Cecilia Nansen

The Kusama in question is Yayoi Kusama, the Japanese contemporary artist most noted for her work in sculpture, but is also active in painting, performance, film, fashion, poetry, fiction and other arts. As a conceptual artist, she blends multiple approaches and styles – particularly abstract expressionism – and is regarded as one of the most important and influential artists to emerge from modern Japan.

A particular trademark with Kusama’s work is her use of polka dots, and this is very much reflected within Finding Kusama. Seven of the 12 pieces in this collection offer bright, vibrant pieces rich in the use of polka dots, each with a degree of minimalism Kusama herself would appreciate. There is a wonderful sense of fun about these pieces  – which again, is precisely what Cecilia intends.

The remaining five images in the collection are monochrome, and while continuing the minimalist approach, they are split between those echoing the polka dot theme with its lightness, and some that plumb a deeper, more personal depth for Cecilia, and which reflect a situation she recently passed through.

DiXmiX Gallery: Cecilia Nansen

As both a celebration of Kusama’s art and an exhibition of Cecilia’s own evocative and introspective art, Finding Kusama is not to be missed.

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Vallys and Moki at DiXmiX in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Moki Yuitza

Recently opened at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, are two new exhibitions by Vallys Baxter and Moki Yuitza, which are contrasting in both style and content.

With La Rumeur de Paris (Rumour of Paris), Vallys presents around 15 images in series – although what the underlying theme might be is hard to judge. All avatar studies, most are presented as avatar studies on a white background, although some are conversely set against a dark backdrop, and one – in difference to the rest  – is a landscape image.

DiXmiX Gallery: Vallys Baxter

Are these simply memories of past events? Are they designed to imbue a feeling? are they representative of a memory or idea? Or are they images that simply exist in and of themselves, sans wider thematic narrative wither within themselves or as a collection? You, as the observer are left to decide this.

When viewing some of the more intimate images, I did find my thoughts drifting towards Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1972 erotic drama Last Tango In Paris. Why this should be, baffles me, if I’m honest. Perhaps it simply the fact I’m not operating at 100% at this point in time and my brain is tending to wander hither and thither. There is certainly little in the individual images to suggest a link between them and the film, so perhaps its just a subconscious linking of naked male and female bodies with the use of Paris in the exhibition’s title, spurred by the (intentional?) anonymity of the figures in those images that sent my thoughts in that direction.

DiXmiX Gallery: Vallys Baxter

None of which should be taken as any kind of critique of Vallys’ work; her artistry is clear from the outset, and she is a gifted purveyor of emotions through her avatar studies; so much so that one might say that it is the emotional reaction to these images that is more important than any wider context of theme or ideas.

Meanwhile, down in The Womb, the basement exhibition space of the gallery, Moki Yuitza presents The Net, which is perhaps best described as a living piece of art: a gridwork of lines and shapes, some of which are zooming to and fro, a single 3D sculpture at its heart.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moki Yuitza

Complicated, carrying (perhaps) echoes of The Matrix or maybe Tron, Moki’s piece really should be seen rather than described, so I’ll leave it to you to drop in and see it for yourself.

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Lalbu’s Desert at DiXmiX

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

Now open at DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source is Desert, which I understand is the first exhibition by artist Lalbu. Unfortunately, as Dixmix maintains the habit of not providing bylines on the artists who display at the gallery (marking DiXmiX Gallery as one of the few that doesn’t), I have no idea who Lalbu is, nor can I tell you any more about them.

In fairness, the lack of further information might be because that is how the artist would prefer things – but without any outline commentary supplied by the gallery, it’s hard to know.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

That said, from an art appreciation standpoint, a lack of background information doesn’t prevent one from recognising this series of images for what it is: a remarkable set of studies offering a glimpse of life in the sub-Saharan / Sahel region of Africa. Each image is focused on a single figure, dressed in what might be regarded as “traditional” desert garb. Female and male, these are intense studies, an entire story written into each one of them.

Such is the emotional depth of each piece, coupled with pose, framing and tone, we don’t need the accoutrements of daily life to recognise these people and the lives they live in what is one of the hardest regions in the world to live on a daily basis. Every single picture speaks volumes in the most marvellous way. Looking at them, it is impossible not to be drawn into the tales that have to tell.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

Take Desert #12 as an example. A close-up profile of a man standing at what might be the entrance to his tent. There is an intensity in his eyes that speaks volumes: intelligence, determination – love; emotions reflected in the soft turn of his lips. But there is more to the image as well: notice the slight scar under his left eye that has a story of its own to tell. Each picture in this collection has a similar depth and layering of story to tell.

As a total aside, I’ll also confess to being drawn to Desert #12 for another reason: the question of who may have been the model / inspiration for the piece. Was this an avatar study post-processed to resemble a painting or is it – as I lean towards – and original piece of art; and if indeed the latter, might the actor Michael Dorn served as inspiration for the piece, because the profile resemble is uncanny.

DiXmiX Gallery: Lalbu

And this is why it really would be nice to know more about Lalbu – because the truth is, these images are so remarkable, the story behind them, which necessarily involves the artist, deserves to be told.

Nevertheless, this  is definitely not a exhibition to be missed.

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Andrea DeLauren at DiXmiX in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

It’s been only a few days since my last visit to DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, but I was drawn back to it with the opening on a new exhibition there, this one featuring art by A. DeLauren (AndreaDeLauren).

Located in the gallery’s Grey hall, immediately adjacent to the main entrance, Body Lines presents series of 12 avatar studies. I confess to not being overly familiar with Andrea’s work, but these are striking images, rich in colour, boldly presented, and with an abstract tone to them that captivates.

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

As the title of the exhibition might suggest, the focus is very much on the avatar body, with – I assume – Andrea being her own model. But this is only part of the story; each image uses a mix of geometric lines, colour, tone, blurring / soft focus and overlays to produced a finished picture. This results in each of the pieces being an abstracted piece that holds the attention quite marvellously and evocatively. When coupled with the individual titles for each of them, it is possible to start weaving a narrative to each image – although strictly speaking, no narrative is required; it is sufficient to be drawn into these images through the use of line and colour.

Some of the pieces, visually and by title, have an obvious focus – take Chest as an example, together with Milk and Honey. Others are more broadly evocative. In this, I was particularly drawn to the somewhat psychedelic tones and feel of Windows 70s, while the mix of colour, geometry and natural curve of Hips (also used in the exhibition’s poster advertising) completely captivated me.

DiXmiX Gallery: Andrea DeLauren

The use of geometry within the images is given further depth in pieces like Zebra, and particularly the “joining” of Surrender and Back Lines, where shadow elements are used to extend the lines of the individual pieces beyond their canvas and into the gallery.

A small, but elegant exhibition, Body Lines sits well with Moon Edenbaum’s The Likelihood of n e a r e s s, on display in the gallery’s Black hall (and which I reviewed here).

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Moon’s Likelihood of Nearness in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

Moon Edenbaum has a talent for taking avatar studies that provide a richness of possible narrative. I first encountered his work in a joint exhibition of art featuring Moon and Hillany Scofield back in 2017 (see Dathúil: Me_You – Moon Edenbaum), and have appreciated his work since then. So it was with a sense of anticipation that I jumped over to DiXmiX Gallery, curated by Dixmix Source, to view a new exhibition of Moon’s work entitled The Likelihood of n e a r e s s.

With its official opening held on Friday, March 29th, 2019, this is a series of some 17 images of Moon’s friends. However, rather than being a set of what might be called “traditional” avatar studies, these are quite marvellous studies taken from some unique perspectives, presented in fitting monochrome finishes.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

Each image offers a particular context on the individuals portrayed. They are by turns captures of intimacy, of candidness, of coyness and, throughout all of them, nearness. The suggestion is that the avatars are not so much facing the camera, but are spending time with a friend.

This gives all of them that narrative depth I do enjoy with Moon’s work. Each picture has a story to tell, both about the subject and about their relationship with the camera / the person behind the camera. Take Pai, for example; by avoiding any of her facial features, we are presented with an image of someone who could be shy, or at least self-conscious with the idea of a  camera pointing at her. But this is picture that also reveals she trusts the camera enough for it not to reveal her vulnerability in this regard, while the camera in turn understands her discomfort and respect it by turning its eye away from the potential to embarrass her.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

Coyness is perhaps best exemplified through Yul and Mic. Side-by-side, both offer playful views of their subjects that does much to suggest their nature and their relationship with the camera / photographer. Perhaps my favourite among this collection, however, is perhaps Cyn.

Once again a glorious close-up, there is a layered richness to this picture that is attention-holding. It is at once intimate, revealing and allows the imagination to take flight. From the collar around the subject’s through, through to her pose to  the selected angle of the shot itself, the picture offers a story of a woman both aware of – but not bothered by – the presence of the camera, as her attention is held elsewhere, through to a tale of her desires and preferences in relationships. It also raises intriguing questions that give the imagination flight on such matters of her desires and with whom and how they might be met, through to thoughts of exactly who holds her attention, and whether it is in fact the photographer.

DiXmiX Gallery: Moon Edenbaum

It is also, for me, the piece that reflects the title of this most fascinating exhibition, which I have no hesitation in recommending, each picture offering so much to those who view them.

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