Art from a lockdown in Second Life

The Glinka Gallery: Lockdown Botanica

Idrial Difference (Idrial Ghost) is the owner of, and creator for, _-FAS-_, the store of plants & fantasy avatar attachments inspired by nature. He is also a 2D and 3D artist, and his most recent exhibition recently opened at The Glinka Gallery, operated and curated by Wolfgang Glinka.

Lockdown Botanica is a series of images from the physical world he produced during 2020’s first pandemic lockdown period, mixed with some of his 3D mesh creations.

As the title of the exhibition might suggest, the images presented within the exhibit are all of plants, flowers, leaves, fruit and  – with one piece – birds. All are beautifully presented in soft watercolours, with the majority of the pieces focused on a single fruit or flower that is presented against a pure white background that encourages the eye to  focus purely on the shape and colour of the subject without any distraction.

The Glinka Gallery: Lockdown Botanica

This approach elevates each piece from being a simple painting of a fruit or flower to being akin to a portrait as engaging as any portrait of a person or avatar, with the subtleties of form and colour playing as important a part in defining each subject as readily as the lines and expression on a face in a human portrait.

The two exceptions to this approach are Grapes Portrait, and Garden Tales. Both are again offered with plain white backgrounds, directing the eye and mind to focus on their subjects, the small grouping of the former giving a suggestion of life through its familiar depiction of grapes, the latter clearly suggestive of life and vitality through the presence of the two Cyanistes caeruleus.

Whwn viewing these pieces, with their lone focus on a specific item, rather than depicting each as sprays of flowers in a vase or a selection of fruits in a bowl, that brings to mind thoughts of the lockdown in which they were created. There is a sense of isolation and separation about each piece that is reflective of the sense of being separated from friends and family. Again, in this, both Grapes Portrait and Garden Tales stand a little apart, offering a view of times in the future when we will again be able to gather together with friends (Grapes Portrait) or spend time with someone we hold particularly close, but have been unable to see (Garden Tales).

The Glinka Gallery: Lockdown Botanica

Rounded out by 3D cacti, water lilies, tree stumps and more (make sure you touch the eggplant for a gift), Lockdown Botanica is an engaging exhibition by a creator and artist.

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An Edge for art in Second Life

Kultivate The Edge: Tempest Rosca

The Edge is Kultivate Magazine’s gallery space specialising in black-and-white photography exhibitions, generally hosting ensemble art displays by artists responding to calls for artists that are periodically announced by the Kultivate team.

Sunday, January 17th marks the first such exhibition at the gallery for 2021, featuring artists Jessamine2108, Maaddi, Eucalyptus Carroll, Johannes Huntsman, Moora McMillan, Blues Rocker, Tempest Rosca, Jamee Sandalwood, Veruca Tammas, Vita Theas and Myra Wildmist.

Kultivate The Edge: Veruca Tammas
As tends to be the case with ensemble exhibitions, the art is wide-ranging in subject matter, featuring avatar studies, reflections on SL art, landscapes, and more. The majority of the artists are familiar to me, and and individuals whose work I always appreciate seeing – although I admit that both Maaddi and Moora are two artists whose work I cannot recall having previously witnessed – and I admit that I found the three pieces presented by Moora attractive in both their subject matter and presentation; Path Near the Sea in particular.

One of the aspects of monochrome photography I particularly like is the matter in which it can add a depth of life to  a image, often more so than if the image had been produced in colour. In the latter the subtleties within an image can sometimes be overlooked as the eye is drawn to admire the way colours have been used or blended; within a monochrome piece, the use of light and dark, whilst obviously presenting contrasts, tends to allow those subtleties to be gently teased to the fore.

Kultivate The Edge: Jamee Sandalwood

This is certainly the case with the majority of the images here, so much so that singling any out is a little unfair, however, I do admit to fining Jamee’s and Tempest’s pieces to particularly demonstrate this. The central image of Tempest’s trio for example, appears to have been pulled from the physical world; had it been in colour, there is a genuine possibility that even allowing for post-processing, its avatarian origins would be apparent.

The one exception to the general themes offered through this exhibition is from Johannes Huntsman.  John is an artist who never fails to impress as he constantly seeks to broaden both his art and his technique. Here he presents four pieces that he has simply called his Geometric Collection, but which carry within them a strong vein of cubism with a measure of abstraction, making them an engaging selection which – and in difference to my comments above regarding the power of monochrome images – would be as engaging were they in colour; so much so, that I look forward to seeing more of John’s experiments in this style of art.

Kultivate The Edge: Johannes Huntsman

But really, all the artists in this ensemble deserve recognition for the pieces they have selected for this exhibition – as you’ll be able to see for yourself in the coming month, or indeed at the formal opening of the exhibition, which takes place at 13:00 SLT on Sunday, January 17th, within the gallery.

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Melusina’s Lockdown and Hope in Second Life

Melusina Parkin: Lockdown and Hope

Melusina Parkin opened her latest exhibition in Second Life Life on Thursday, January 14th at the Kondor Art Centre’s White Gallery.

Lockdown and Hope is a highly topical selection of art by Melu that takes as a part of its theme  – as the name implies – something that remains on a lot of people’s minds as we roll on into 2021: the situation around the continuing threat of the SARS-CoV-2 virus / COVID-19, and the continuing grind, for so many of us, of being in a lockdown situation that brings limited opportunities to get out, interact with others or do the things we really want to do.

Melusina Parkin: Hope (v) 4 and Hope (v) 5

However, rather than focus just on the negative, Lockdown and Hope also looks to the future and the time beyond the shadow of the virus, when we can all resume largely “normal” lives with their attendant freedoms and activities as the various vaccines spread amongst populations,  allowing us to, if not eradicate COVID-19 entirely, then at least bring it under control and diminish it’s threat.

On the surface, this is an exhibition of two halves: on the lower floor are 18 images that carry the title “Lockdown”, and very much focus on the impositions that have been placed on us as a result of the pandemic situation. Their dominant themes  intertwine feelings loneliness, listlessness, boredom, the need for escape, and / or being cut off from the world. These are presented in Melu’s captivating style of focusing down on just a portion of a scene. It’s a technique I’ve long admired, simply because captured in this way, her images offer the opening lines of a story, leaving our minds to tell the rest based on the title of the exhibition and the point of focus in the image.

Melusina Parkin: Lockdown (v) 3 and Lockdown (v) 4

Take Lockdown (v) 16, as an example (seen in the foreground at the top of this piece). With its focus on the handle of a door, and the shadow on a distant wall cast by the light falling through a window, we’re given an image that clearly speaks to being shut-in. The door, so long a means of keeping others out so we can enjoy our own company, now a barrier to our ability to go out, the door handle caught in sunlight now a forbidden thing, the patterned shadow of an unseen window the calling of a world currently beyond our reach.

On the upper floor is a further set of 18 images that express the idea of Hope: that those freedoms we are temporarily without will return; that we will once again be able travel, to share, to appreciate nature, to enjoy a vacation on some remote shore and or enjoy the simple pleasures of walks along the coast or country roads. In contrast to those on the lower floor, these are offered as more expansive images – open spaces, broad skies, distant horizons – all of which are emblematic of freedom and the ability to roam where we will, and partake of all that life has to offer.

Melusina Parkin: Hope (v) 13 and Hope (v) 14

But there is more here as well; within many of the images on the lower floor offer not only representations of the isolation of lockdown, but also a glimmer of hope for the future. Again, to take Lockdown (v) 16. Whilst standing as a symbol of the need for us to stay isolated from those beyond our immediate bubble (if indeed, we have a bubble), it also offers hope: the very fact that sunlight is falling on the door handle suggests that the day will come when we can again open our doors to others and invite them in without fear, or pass through the door into the world beyond that is promised in the shadow falling on the wall beyond the door; indeed, the very fact that the door stands ajar suggests that time might actually be not that far away.

Elsewhere, Lockdown (v) 9 offers us a view of again being cut off from the things we would normally take for granted – cars parked outside the window with their promise of taking us anywhere we might desire, but for now beyond our reach. However, it also reminds us that despite all the impositions of lockdown, the cars are still there, waiting, and one day we’ll be free to travel wherever we would. Meanwhile,

Melusina Parkin: Lockdown (v) 8 and Lockdown (v) 9

This double focus can also be found in several of the images upstairs. Take Hope (v) 13 and Hope (v) 14 for example. Both offer use the promise of freedoms to be joyed – whilst the presence of the fences, open as one is and as relatively unobtrusive as the other might be in allowing us to see the sky, reminds us that the freedoms we’ll soon resume are not quite here yet, and restraint of action is still required.

From gowns cast across furniture out of possible frustration at being unable to wear them in public to the promise that nights out will yet return (Lockdown (v) 10) to a look towards a time when walks along sandy shores or country roads will again be ours to enjoy, but which is not yet upon us – hence the empty chair and bench Hope (v) 12 and Hope (v) 15); and with tales of separation and togetherness bound within the simple framing of a teapot, cups, decorative hearts and the placement of two chairs (Lockdown (v) 4). All 36 images within Lockdown and Hope have a richness of narrative, marking this as another extraordinary and engaging exhibition from Melusina Parkin.

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Eclectic Dreams in Second Life

Sinful Retreat Janus I gallery: Eclectic Dreams

Eclectic Dreams is the title of an exhibition of art that recently opened (January 9th, 2021) within the Janus I Gallery at Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat. Featuring Lash VV’s work from the physical world, it is one of the most raw and vital selections of art I’ve come across in recent times.

Hailing from Serbian, Lash VV is an artist whose work tends to focus on a range of themes, including the spiritual, religious and erotic, that can often include motifs that can be primal and / or universal in suggestion, connecting his art to life and the vitality of living. In reflection of this, rather than confining himself to one ore two styles of presentation, Lash VV, encompasses a broad range of techniques and styles,  including impressionism, abstraction, hints of fauvism and impasto. At the same time, he freely utilises watercolours, pen and ink paint, acrylic, oil, tempura, and compositing techniques (including digital compositing) to both emphasise and layer his work. 

Sinful Retreat Janus I gallery: Eclectic Dreams

All of these styles an approaches can be gathered under the core umbrella of expressionism in its broadest sense, in that Lash’s art is often a refection of his own memories and outlook on the themes his work enfolds.

In this, the choice of style used within each piece is, I would suggest, an essential part of its interpretation, adding, indeed, evoking, that raw vitality I mentioned at the top of this article. There is not a piece in this selection that doesn’t evoke a sense of life and / or offers an emotive sensation, From very human pieces such as the still life studies Blue Thoughts (which I admit to being the piece I found the most captivating in this portfolio of richly engaging pieces) and Woman in Blue, through to the abstract forms of Initial Frenzy through Passion, the selected technique does as much to bring each piece to life as does the (more usual) technique in using a dominant colour as a means of expression.

Sinful Retreat Janus I gallery: Eclectic Dreams

There is more here as well; in some of the images, the selected technique can give some of the pieces an unfinished edge to them that further adds a degree of life and, with some, brings to mind the work of past masters.

Tor example, take Cognition. Within it, the seemingly rough lines that hint at being hurriedly drawn, point towards Da Vinci pondering the beauty of the human head – and what might go on within it and using a sketch to capture thoughts that occur whilst engaged on other work. At the same time, the subtle use of colour demonstrates the fact that far from being incomplete, the picture is exactly as it is intended to be, a skilled study of art and form, and one reflective not just of a classical genius, but of Lash’s own unique skill – and his own contemplations.

Sinful Retreat Janus I gallery: Eclectic Dreams

With around 29 pieces on display, many of them carefully placed within small groups defined by style so as to present exhibits within an exhibition, Eclectic Dreams is a truly fascinating – dare I say masterful – collection of art from an artist who is, I understand, new to the SL art scene, but whom I have no doubt will be seen more widely as time goes by – and deservedly so.

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Taking in an American Shot in Second Life

Nitroglobus Gallery: American Shot

Opening today at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is the first element in a two-part exhibition entitled American Shot, by Milena Carbone.

Both Nitroglobus and Milena have reputations for presenting and creating thought-provoking exhibitions that challenge perceptions and thoughts; and in this exhibition, we have one of the most expansive and provocative installations I’ve seen within Second Life. For her canvas, Milena essentially takes the entirety of human history, using it to outline the rise of civilisation – notably western civilisation – and the corruptions that have inevitably followed, with a focus on the American Empire.

To  say American Shot is richly layered would be an understatement; truth be told it is a complex piece that, for some at least, might make for uncomfortable viewing, given it is exceptionally timely in its presentation, indirectly touching, as it does, on events that have recently unfolded in the United States.

Nitroglobus Gallery: American Shot

This layering starts with the title of the installation itself. The “American shot” (or plan américain), was a term from French film criticism. It refers to a medium-long (“knee”) film shot used in the early years of cinematography to record a group of characters engaged in complex dialogue,  with all of them visible to the camera, thus negating the need for a more complex (and time-consuming at the time) multiple shots that might otherwise be required were close-ups of individuals to be used. It particularly became a staple of early American western movies of the 1930s and 40s, thus earning it the name.

Within the exhibition, the term refers not so much to the framing of the images, but to the idea that, in the history of world shaping civilisations, it is currently the “American Empire” that holds sway  – is calling the shots -, although it now appears to stand at a junction in its own history, the paths before it leading either to further greatness for the benefit of humankind, the other leading to collapse and decay.

Further layering comes in the form of presentation: for the first part of the exhibition, fourteen out of 28 images are presented; these will be swapped at around the mid-point of the exhibition’s run for the remaining fourteen. Each of these images offers something of a reflection on humanity and / or the American experience, the commentary within them both clear and subtle.

Nitroglobus Gallery: American Shot

The “clear” commentary among the first fourteen images is perhaps best exemplified in Million Dollar Priest, an underscoring of the way in which the Christian religion has been subverted over the decades in America through the rise of the “tele-evangelists” with their messages of godliness being invariably tied to the idea of their own personal aggrandizement through the acquisition of wealth through the concept of prosperity theology.

The inclusion of this image also brings into focus one of the themes that can be found throughout Milena’s art: questioning the nature of God and religion. Nor is it the only one of her themes. Also to be found here are thoughts on the collapse of humanity, the roles of science and spirituality, our perception of fiction, reality and consciousness. Some of the pieces also are relevant to the current US situation in their commentaries on the nature of authoritarianism and the role of violence in  shaping civilisation – again, notably, but not exclusively, Army of Bataclan.

I’ve selected the latter image both to highlight the the point made above, and because it encompasses another element of the pieces here: a neo-classical linking of modern civilisation with the great empires of the past. These are again both somewhat clear in places, and elsewhere subtle, with some also layered in broader references. The mirage of democracy, for example, reminds us that the democratic ideal has been the goal of western civilisation – but is something that can easily be subverted (as seen with the Rome Empire and, again, the events in the United States of the first week of January 2021).

Nitroglobus Gallery: American Shot

Much more awaits discovery within this installation, including a a book that helps chart the way through the images and Milena’s ideas in American Shot. Rather than forming a simple expositional piece, however, the book actually forms an integral part of the installation, offering categories for the images that help with their context as well as a story that brings together Milena’s ideas and focus for the installation. It can be found for sale both at the landing point for the gallery and at the café, and I recommend visitors consider purchasing it.

There really is a lot to unpack within this exhibition, as such a visit is highly recommended – as is a return when the second group of images in unveiled (all 28 are contained with the accompanying book), something I’ll be doing later in the month. As such, I’ll finish her by pointing out the official opening takes place on Monday, January 11th at 12:00 noon SLT.

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The art of … well, me, actually!

Kultivate Loft Gallery, January 2021

As a rule, I’m not a great believer in self-promotion, however, I also have to admit to being delighted and honoured to be invited by John Huntsman to present some of my images of the places I’ve visited in SL in the opening exhibition of 2021 for Kultivate Magazine’s Loft Gallery.

As I’ve oft – and genuinely – stated, I do not consider myself as “artist” when compared to the many, many talents of genuine artists who have a genuine talent for bring Second Life and its avatars to life; my work is really attempts at illustrating the places I visit rather than trying to be any form of artistic statement. So, when I receive an invitation such as this, I am genuinely (and quite considerably) honoured and flattered. In  this case, very, very much so, given the calibre of artist who are generally invited to exhibit at the Kultivate galleries.

I’m also not great with opening events – I prefer to keep to the background and patter / putter around where I can’t be notice. However, and all things being equal, I’ll be at the Loft for the opening John and Tempest have arranged, and I hope that you’ll drop by either for the opening event from 12 noon SLT on sunday, January 3rd, or over the next few weeks and have a peek at the images I’ve selected for the exhibition.

Many thanks again to John and Tempest for arrange this exhibition.

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