Sunday, May 8, 2022

Kerala Lalithakala Akademi Annual State Awards and Exhibition 2021 and The Covid Series

The Evening

On a warm and humid evening, like any other evening, I was in Kochi after a span of two and half years breathing a familiar air in one of my favourite places in Kochi where I had exhibited several times before. This time it was different in ways I couldn’t imagine as I was receiving my first ever State Award – Honourable Mention Award – in a grand ceremony from Sri Saji Cherian, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, Kerala State and many other dignitaries, creatives, friends and family.

After Covid lockdown and everything going under as far as the public and social events was concerned, this was a revival of art. The celebration of art was two-fold as this was the 50th year of the State Award and Exhibition and 60 years since the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi’s inception.

Award Winning Work - We're Islands-Self Portraits-IGNITE series-Deepa Gopal-Watercolour-15x15cm each-2020-HuesnShades
"We're Islands-Self Portraits" - IGNITE series-
Deepa Gopal-Watercolour-15x15cm each-2020




Sri Saji Cherian, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, Kerala State -HuesnShades
Sri Saji Cherian, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, Kerala State 

Welcome address by Sri Murali Cheeroth, Chairman, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi-HuesnShades
Welcome address by Sri Murali Cheeroth, Chairman, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi

Lighting the lamp-HuesnShades
When I was beckoned to Light the lamp


The Stage

The ceremony was moved to a bigger space, unlike the previous years, in the presence of a larger crowd and a grander arrangement. The center stage of the Award ceremony was impressive in its scale with the white typography of this year’s title covering most of the backdrop on a grey palette. Minimal décor with some clustered flowers in the foreground that soothed the eye.

The Chairman, Sri Murali Cheeroth, with a strong vision had put his best foot forward with the Secretary, Sri Balamuralikrishnan, and their steadfast team. The changes were impressive and gladly visible in each and every detail as well from the way the staff was dressed to the display of all the artworks that were in sync with the white and mounted frames. The noticeable one is the entry of New media into the esteemed gallery. The memento had undergone a makeover as well. We were presented with the title-printed tote bags, the stunning catalogue and a plant (yes, a plant. I think it’s a beautiful gesture – a symbol of growth, prosperity and going green and sustainable).

Having a different vantage point from the stage was unique and sharing it with esteemed guests par excellence was a cherished and memorable experience.

Receiving the Honourable Mention Award from Sri Saji Cherian, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, Kerala State -HuesnShades
Receiving the Honourable Mention Award from Sri Saji Cherian, Honourable Minister of Cultural Affairs, Kerala State 


The music by violinist Sabaressh Prabhakar and folksy fusion by the music band ReSatrippin’ was an incredible treat and delight.

Violinist Sabareesh Prabhakar and ReSaTrippin' singer, Resmi Satheesh-HuesnShades
Violinist Sabareesh Prabhakar and ReSaTrippin' singer, Resmi Satheesh


The Jury

The jury was led by the internationally recognized artist Prabhavathi Meppayil and included renowned artists like Manisha Parekh, Atul Bhalla, Babu Eshwar Prasad and Aziz T M.

The Exhibits

I found some amazing works in this year’s exhibition as well, obviously. All the Award-winning works were a treat to the senses and so were many others exhibited there. I can only imagine the Jury’s plight! It definitely was an inspiration galore for me.

Each work is a journey – of not only the artist but also of the viewer and they correlate, coerce and collide at instances forming a bond and that is what each artist looks forward to. A path that perhaps leads on to other paths or at times a cul de sac (a dead end) and even the story remains.

The new media was a whole new category rightly included to suit the current times in the exhibition but unfortunately, I couldn't see that part of the exhibition and I had to travel back the next day.

My Work

I received the Honourable Mention Award for “We’re Islands – Self Portraits” (a series of 10 paintings), my mindscapes. They present distinct, dreamlike, introspective-emotional states or mindscapes - a term that I coined to call my paintings that portray the feminine psyche from a strong female presence and perspective. It deals with feminine states of being in one with the environment, contemplative and surrealistic along with their internal and external struggles. My works feature dreams, visions, myths, memories, people, their tales, emotions and unbridled feelings to form different layers. I suffer from fibromyalgia and the pain speaks in some layers.  In a society that is consumed by fake realities, we are prone to alienation and a feeling of otherness even among our own. Women being ‘emotional nomads’ we navigate adapting ourselves through various circumstances just to survive. My protagonists create parallel realms - a refuge and value detachment and solitude amid ‘an environment.’

"We're Islands - Self Portraits" my Award-winning work-HuesnShades
With "We're Islands - Self Portraits"
my Award-winning work

With my parents - Visalakshi and Gopalakrishnan, and my brother, Dileep Gopal-HuesnShades
With my parents - Visalakshi and Gopalakrishnan, and my brother, Dileep Gopal


Sri Murali Cheeroth, Chairman, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi-HuesnShades
Sri Murali Cheeroth, Chairman, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi


With my parents and Sri Balamuralikrishnan, Secretary, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi-HuesnShades
With my parents and Sri Balamuralikrishnan, Secretary, Kerala Lalithakala Akademi


Stirring Interest

The works that stayed with me are Jayesh Barsati’s Soliloquy in Covid Time, watercolours of the husband and wife duo – Shajith and Smitha Babu, Untitled pen and ink works of Sudayadas, Rahul Balakrishnan’s Daily Life Circus – all State Award Winners, Biji Bhaskar’s Love Lives in the Village (V Sankaramenon Endowment Gold Medal), Akhil Mohan’s Rice Series 27, Abdulla P A’s Rusting Memories (both Honourable Mention), K S Anandapadmanabhan’s sculpture (Special Mention) and all the Award and Special mention works. The other works that piqued my interest were that of Sara Hussain, Tito Stanley, Blesson Bernard, G Unnikrishnan, Helna Merin Joseph, Anu Rajan, Sabitha Kadannappally, Aswathi Prakas, Anupama Alias, Sruthi S Kumar, Bijimol, Babitha Rajiv, Varghese Kalathil, Ameen Khalil, Rejani, Asokan Adipuredath, Meethu Mohan, Rajendran Pullur, Sarath K S, Sarundas Cherukattil, Shasna Majeed, Shilpa T K, P G Sreenivasan, Sreevalsan and Vishnu C S.

I did hear and see some reels on Instagram of the interesting new media works. I have to mention the increased participation of the students and the energy they exhibit is incredible. Kudos to the new and the young!

There are many more you can find once you visit Durbar Hall Art Gallery. Take your time and do visit.

Award winners and Dignitaries-HuesnShades
Award winners and Dignitaries


The Travel

I had been to Kochi just for the ceremony held on 25 April. The stay was arranged by the Akademi in a nearby hotel and delicious food was served behind the gallery itself in a makeshift serving area. I was back in Dubai on 26th by afternoon. So the whole process of travelling, staying, attending the ceremony, walking through the exhibition, meeting family and friends, getting to know new people and rushing back to Dubai all seemed like a dream. After reaching back, I did wonder whether it really did take place or was it something I conjured up.

 

The State Exhibition is on until 12 May 2022 at Durbar Hall Art Gallery, Kochi. Please do visit and leave your feedback through comments. Click a selfie with the artworks and post it on Instagram tagging the artist and the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi.



Thursday, March 31, 2022

"When the wild beckons" - Art of Endangered species and Wildlife by Animalier Rachel Gray

Rachel Gray is a British Artist who specializes in wildlife portraiture. Rachel has always been drawn to animals and art from a very young age. Her admiration and love of animals have led her to wildlife conservation, and she is committed to using her work to raise awareness of endangered species from around the globe. With this goal in mind, Rachel has worked with charities such as the WWF and has collaborated with the British High Commission, COP26 “Together for Our Planet” (2021), Namibian High Commission and Expo 2020 Dubai.

"I live for colour and animals, so combining them both is just brilliant!"

Wildlife calls Rachel Gray to her bosom from where births her magnificent portraits of the wild. She also paints pets. Her animals are lifelike and look ready to spring to life from her screen. Her digital rendition that mimics oil painting is full of life and Painter is a tool that gives her that provenance to capture the interesting, intriguing facets of animals and their environment. Rachel captures her own photographs and uses them as a reference. She has travelled extensively from the dunes of Namibia to the rainforests of Malaysia, she has slept under the stars and riverbeds. She feels that one must capture these animals in their own habitats to observe them at their best – to capture their true personality, soaking up the colours, details, behaviours and surroundings. Raising awareness about endangered species has always been one of the hallmarks of Rachel’s works.

Rachel Gray-Wildlife Art-Endangered Species-Malaysia-HuesnShades
Rachel Gray

Recently I had an appointment with Rachel at the Malaysian Pavillion where she was displaying her works during the sustainability week, particularly for this blog post. It was a short but inspiring conversation. With the backdrop of the wooden panels of the pavilion and the green around it was a perfect setting.

“I’m always thinking about art be it mine or someone else's.”


Focus-Rachel Gray-Wildlife Art-Endangered Species-Malaysia-HuesnShades
Focus - Rachel Gray

Rachel, however, doesn’t strive for photorealism. Her aim is to convey their character and the moments they share. She creates the images on the tablet/computer using Wacom, which is touch, tilt and weight-sensitive tablet, and a stylus that simulates the texture of oil brushes for her works and uses the software Corel Painter.

“Painter is the best software that bridges the gap between traditional art and digital art, making it more accessible for traditional artists to make the crossover into the world of digital art.”

She was the first British female artist to have a solo exhibition, Instincts and Experiences’; a collection of digital wildlife portraits and abstract oil paintings, at the National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the gallery.



Rachel Gray - Wildlife Art-HuesnShades
Rachel Gray - Wildlife Art

Below is the video of the conversation I had with the immensely talented Rachel Gray who in spite of her hectic schedule took out some time and spoke to me. Here, Rachel Gray speaks about “Below the Canopy,” her exhibition that was showcased at the Expo2020, Malaysian Pavillion during Sustainability Week. 

watch this video to hear what Rachel has to say about her practice and more



You can reach Rachel Gray at:

Website: www.rgportraits.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelgray.art/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rgportraits



Tuesday, March 8, 2022

When Art and Words Meet on Women's Day – SHE: A Creative Dialogue

Art and Literature have always been intertwined for ages. Though it can live, one cannot exist wholly without the other. They intersect at some point or some stage tugging the chords and embracing each other. It is such intersections that make the whole process and conjugation much more interesting and stimulating rather than the normal path.

One such intersection is about to happen on Mar 8 at Dusit Thani where art, conversation and high tea meet with a lovely author and eight UAE-based artists from various backgrounds. SHE is an expression of hues, shades and forms imbibed from the pages of the International journalist-best-selling author, Purva Grover’s latest book “She” which I recommend that all girls (for that matter, guys too) must-read. It is more an experience than a 212 pages book. When I read the book, it offered me the feeling of hearing a friend in conversation over a cup of coffee in a quaint café or chitchat on the living room couch over hot tea and snacks. The book itself as mentioned by the author can be treated like a handbook with spaces and pages for exercise or filling-ins.

The exhibition is curated by Slava Noor, Founder-Editor of Arte & Lusso Art Magazine. Ms. Noor wishes to open up a space for the creative dialogue that is one of the key ingredients for any creative communion. The saplings that sprout from such fertile soil are bound to hold the earth for favourable growth. What makes this particular art exhibition stand out is that the artworks have been created through conversations, enriching dialogue and exchange of ideas.

SHE - Poster - 8 Mar 2022

The Curator

Slava Noor - Curator-SHE

Slava Noor (@SlavaNoor
)

Slava Noor is passionate about various forms of art and believe in its power to inspire people and bridge different cultures. She has created Arte & Lusso in order to promote both local and international talent and help artists, fashion designers and other creatives get the exposure they deserve. She is also passionate about different cuisines and enjoys reviewing restaurants in Dubai and Europe.

Slava can be spotted at major art and fashion events as well as sipping her favorite karak tea or espresso at one of the hidden cafes in Dubai.






The Author

Purva Grover, India (@purvagr

Purva Grover-Author-SHE

Purva Grover is a best-selling author, international journalist & editor, TEDx Speaker, award-winning playwright & stage director, published poetess, spoken word artist, and creative entrepreneur. She is the founder-editor of The Indian Trumpet, a quarterly digital magazine for Indian expats, and works as the assistant editor with a UAE national daily, and editor, for a magazine for young adults. She is backed with a post-graduate degree in mass communication and literature. She resides in Dubai, UAE. 

She made her debut as an author with The Trees Told Me So(December 2017, Niyogi Books). Her second title, It was the year 2020 (February 2021, Kindle India) was instantly recognised for its profound pandemic prose. Her third title, She (August 2021, Ukiyoto) is currently making waves for its honest, relatable and fun approach on the topic of womanhood. 



Artists in Alphabetical Order

Abda Fayyaz-Artist-SHE

Abda Fayyaz, Pakistan (@artbyabda
)

Abda is a self-taught artist. Her work is the reflection of the understanding of the universe and the constant changes and transformations that take place within and around us.

With a Degree in Banking and Finance, she holds over 15 years of experience in brand development, marketing and advertising, strategy management and more.  Her main mediums are oil and acrylic mediums. From abstract paintings to calligraphy, the artworks represent a fusion of modern and contemporary art and traditional techniques. Abda’s art emphasizes the importance of finding our true purpose, and that each one of us is enough in our own capacities and that resources are always available if we have the right connection with our inner conscious, curiosity, energies and the holistic purpose of the universe. 

 


Christine Dessa-Artist-SHE

Christine Dessa, India (@cdessart

Christine Dessa is a self-taught artist of Indian origin, who has called Dubai her home for the last 25+ years. Art has been her passion since childhood. Decades of practice, self-learning and brush strokes later, she has evolved into the accomplished artist of today. She called herself a ‘closet’ artist, painting for her pleasure, experimenting with various mediums and techniques, while using her home as an art gallery. 

Combining real-life and symbolism together with the application of light, Christine Dessa allows her subjects to emote and have their own voice. She incorporates realism juxtaposed against fantasy as a means of storytelling, also allowing her viewers to connect with her art on a personal level.

Her forte is Watercolours Portraits, while her Horses and Oceans, require a special mention. Christine enjoys the beauty and magic of watercolours with its fluid dynamics and transparency. Working with this less forgiving medium has refined her painting skills a thousand-fold. She is also very skilled with Acrylics and uses this versatile and vibrant medium for her larger exhibition paintings on canvas.


Deepa Gopal - Artist - SHE

Deepa Gopal, India (@dee.huesnshades
)

Deepa Gopal is a visual artist-creative writer currently based in Dubai. Winner of 2021 ‘Artgram’ Award at the Orange Flower Awards, she conceptualized and curated her latest, brainchild – an online exhibition of art and poetry, ‘IGNITE-from within the confines-‘ (2020) inviting artists and poets from across the world. Author of the blog, Hues n Shades, she has done her Masters in English Language and Literature. Diversity is her forte as she loves to explore and experiment with various mediums and techniques. Most of her works are “mindscapes” as she calls them, an introspection into the emotional and psychological states. Her protagonists enjoy detachment; creating parallel worlds. Myths, dreams, visions, people and their tales, the emotions and the unbridled feelings kindle her creative juices. She sometimes couples her art with Haiku (Japanese poetic style) or micro-poems.




Fatema Fakhruddin, India (@notnotart__fathz/

Fatema Fakhruddin - Artist - SHE

As a person who always wears her heart on her sleeve, Fatema decided to bring her heart out onto her canvases and pursue her avant-garde artistic career in early 2020. Originally from India, she now lives in the UAE with her husband and two loving children. Known for her predominant use of bright and colorful acrylics, oils and other mediums, her paintings evolve through words and intended puns, which compliment her bold personality. All created in her home heart studio.

The intricacy of human nature, accepting and acknowledging one’s emotional, mental, and intellectual mindset being legitimate and powerful, is the never-ending source of her inspiration. Her artworks challenge the viewer to accept who they are. Portraying this through conceptual art, she thrives on evolving and developing her artistic process and continually learning. It allows her to communicate her emotions, which she otherwise struggles expressing. Her artworks are a visual diary into her being. 



Julia Smolenkova -Artist - SHE

Julia Smolenkova, Russia (@julia_smolenkova)

Julia Smolenkova is an international artist, publisher of two art magazines, galleries owner, Ph.D. in the field of the history of art and architecture, curator of international art projects, festivals, symposiums. In her artworks, the connection between the abstract and the real creates a new space level. Her success has been cemented with great demand from galleries in  Europe, the USA, Russia, UAE, Julia’s art is regularly purchased by enthusiasts globally. Her original pieces of sculptures and paintings can also be found in public and private collections, around the world as well as in the United Nations collection. Her monumental mosaics adorn the streets of Moscow. Her colorful paintings adorn the walls of hotels like Mandarin Oriental Jumeira in Dubai. Julia is an avid traveler and explores worldwide cities to acquire her inspiration, which results in the development of new collections that are exhibited regularly.




Poonam Chathurvedi (@c.poonam

Poonam Chathurvedi - Artist - SHE


Poonam is an Artist of Indian Origin and based out of Dubai, UAE since 2007. Over the years, Poonam has been a part of many major local, regional, and international exhibitions. Additionally, Poonam has also presented her work as a Solo Artist in a few prominent places including, Fakih University Hospital Dubai, Indian by Nature, Arte’s on several occasions. 






Sam, The Sassy Crayon - Artist - SHE

Samantha Lomas aka The Sassy Crayon (@the_sassy-crayon
)

The Sassy Crayon, is a UK-born, UAE-based artist, avid traveller and martini connoisseur. After graduating in Interior Architecture and Design, she has spent several years travelling, living in, and embracing, the cultures of South East Asia and Australia. No matter where she has been in the world, her love for art has not diminished. After several years in the business world, she decided it was time to turn to art full time. Her knowledge of interiors and design along with intense training through several top art institutions, enable her to create beautiful bespoke works of art for any environment.






Snehita Gehlot, India (@snehiart

Snehita Gehlot - Artist - SHE


Snehita is a Licensed Indian Artist (Painting) & Entrepreneur based in Dubai. She is a Visual Content creator for Art Magazine, Fashion and Art Brands, an IT Engineer (Website, graphic design, and digital products), an MBA and Director at Luxy Flare.


As an Artist, she believes ” Art is Experimenting Fearlessly ” No fear of judgement, and freely exploring the endless possibilities. She has always been a creative person since her childhood, she started learning and creating at a very early age as her mother is also an artist and art instructor.





Zumrud Zeynalli - Artist - SHE
Zumrud Zeynalli, Azerbeijan-UK (@zumrud_contemporary)

Zumrud Zeynalli is a contemporary artist who blends Eastern and Western cultures in her art that is also largely inspired by childhood fairy tales. 

Zumrud is a British artist born in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1981 and developed a passion for art and craft at an early age. Living and working in London, United Kingdom allowed Zumrud to travel a lot and she visited 74 countries, explored unreal parts of the world and different cultures that widened her horizon and inspired her to create. Coming from a very caring family and society and moving to London, she has faced many challenges but learned how to become an independent woman. As a woman who leads a large company in the competitive and male-dominated oil field – she still got a chance to nurture her creative side and express herself through painting. 




“SHE” will be open to the public until March 30, 2022. The exhibition will take place at Dusit Thani Dubai located on  Sheikh Zayed Road.


Tuesday, February 15, 2022

'I'm Not A Robot' An Inaugural Exhibition Exploring And Integrating The Physical And Digital Art

In the pleasant urban neighbourhood at the City Walk, Dubai, the inaugural exhibition <I'm not a Robot> explores the nuances of the in-between where the digital and the traditional meet. Edward Gallagher, the Director and Curator of Galloire Art Gallery, presents six renowned artists from across the globe who are ingenious in their chosen field. The exhibition that opened on 8 Feb 2022 has works by Daniel Canogar, Jonas Lund, Addie Wagenknecht, Xavier Sole Mora, Jonathan Monaghan and Anne Spalter. The works displayed range from real paintings to AI (Artificial Intelligence) programmed and collaborated works, from virtual reality to Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

Almost all the artists have developed a unique algorithm for their works that have helped their insignia. They also have an interdisciplinary approach. All of the artists point towards a technology-driven future and the many facets of consumerism that affect our day-to-day lives.


Galloire Art Gallery



The Artists and The Works

Daniel Canogar

Canogar’s works seek audience participation and multiple perspectives. The two works – Loom and Amalgama are fine examples of how our day-to-day engagement with technology is used in creative ways of art-making. The screens are placed like sculptures. The colourful stripes passing through Loom remind us of the warp and weft of the textile as if weaving is in progress while we catch some phrases in between. They happen to be the day’s top five Google searches and it is those searches their order which gives colour to the moving stripes. In Amalgama, the best 500 artworks that start from Renaissance to Contemporary art are morphed into fluid forms or organic abstractions where search data is used for artistic reinterpretations of electronic information. Canogar embraces technology and draws inspiration from them to satisfy his creative outpour. He also mentions that our lives are interlaced with technology and a future without its existence is unthinkable.

Memory and loss are constant reminders in Canogar’s works. They involve in the stimulation of our senses by actively participating in his works by touch, by google searches and generated data, by movement, or by mere presence of our body temperature. They react in real-time to different data sets. Our movements are choreographed in a way that adds life to his works as in Dynamo, a site-specific audio-visual installation in the Atrium of the Spanish Pavillion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Anyone who has visited the Spanish Pavillion wouldn’t miss it. Peoples’ movement – physical and virtual, is a crucial component of his works.


Daniel Canogar's works - 'Loom' and 'Amalgama'



Jonas Lund

Lund is a Swedish conceptual artist who critically engages in the networked systems, the power structure and commercial culture. Presenting a set of parameters, his works usually need viewer involvement. Lund investigates issues related to the increasing digitisation of contemporary society through the means of intellectual property, participation, and authority. He explores the complicated relationship between art and commerce. There is a game-like structure, a playfulness to his style. Lund is at once criticizing and taking advantage of the technological evolution as his works are redesigned and rearranged as a commentary on the current system and practices. 

The gallery has displayed two abstract works of Lund. They are mosaics of his successful artworks that had performed well in auctions. Each work records the performance metrics and is with inbuilt near field communicators that give meta-narrative about the painting’s life to the viewer who places the phone near the canvas. It also takes you to a special portal as a collector where you can have chat and interconnectivity with other collectors of Lund’s works. Technology and art connect a community. One of his works is the only NFT in this exhibition. Since we mention NFT, Jonas Lund has his own cryptocurrency, the Jonas Lund Token (JLT) that has a worldwide community of its own.


Jonas Lund's Untitled



Addie Wagenknecht

Wagenknecht’s Alone Together series and Ghost series uphold female presence while being absent. These works are strong reminders of where we as women were and are. Wagenknecht’s take on Yves Klein’s “human paintbrushes” in his *Anthropometry paintings is absolutely stunning and noteworthy. She in turn avoided the display and made a negative space of her reclined nude, a deviation perhaps from the classic odalisque. The painting is technically assisted by a Roomba with a custom algorithm that helps it to navigate around her body until the whole canvas is mapped with Klein’s Blue. The result even when it’s a void “serves to evoke the duality of being invisible while simultaneously claiming presence.”

Ghost series refers to the modern-day slang where a person disappears without explanation in the dating environment after a short stint leading to confusion and disappointment. The hope, the temporary highs, the leading negotiations, and the final vanish are documented through still life-like images of flowers veiled in tulle and organza showing different stages of progress from hope to disappointment and to renewal.

The female lens through which the subjects and situations are examined is what adds to its beauty.


Victoria admiring Addie Wagenknecht's 'Self Portrait - Snow on Cedar'



Xavier Sole Mora

Intensely influenced by Goya, Xavier’s works explore the playfulness and viciousness side by side. A satire on the violent, grotesque and dark world with a fresh impishly nasty perspective, Sole Mora engages the audience verging on the absurd. The theme of good and evil, power-play bordering on cruelty making it tempting and voyeuristic through seemingly naive setups are his insignia. As an artist, Sole Mora’s practice explores the possibilities of technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence to create narratives around social commentary.

The work in the experience room of Galloire, the Golden Feast is a revisit on Goya’s Fool’s Folly from his series Disparates. The etched bulls are here replaced by floating golden hippos that keep bobbing in the air like balloons. A dangerous animal, the deadliest land mammal, is made playful and borders on the comic as virtual reality take us to a farcical land.

In virtual reality and video work, Sole Mora examines our guilty pleasures and our ability to indulge in them. The artist has glamorized the hippos by displaying them in an all-golden hue. As we put on the VR, we are transported to a world surrounded and threatened by the golden hippo presenting a dream-like state. Sole Mora plays with the sense of threat and the beauty assigned to the hippos; the stark contrast of things provoking us to “enjoy” what actually is unenjoyable.


Slava Noor, Founder and Editor of Arte & Lusso experiencing Xavier Sole Mora's virtual reality 'Golden Feast'



Jonathan Monaghan

Drawing inspiration from a wide range of areas from art history to video games to contemporary materialistic culture, Monaghan produces fantastical, candy-colored and otherworldly realms. They provide critical reflection as it examines and uncovers unsettling anxieties associated with technology and consumerism perhaps indicating a bionic future. He creates new mythology for a contemporary society based on technology and materialism.

Monaghan’s two works, Soft Power I and II, replicate aristocratic and royal portraiture and are embellished to the point of being dramatic – portraits of ominous figures. One can observe the signs of the corporate logos and consumer electronics of modern-day also reminding us of pop art, in a blend of his own. It may very well signify our current pandemic state with the face covered in velvet masks evoking us of a Baroque aesthetic with its pomp and grandeur. The portraits are a study of power in the digital age. In the Alien Sofa I (series- A Trace Left by the Future), the real and the artificial seem to fade in ambiguity. The compositions are so textured that it plays with the sense of touch but the reality is otherwise. Again, the real and the artificial worlds collide; Monaghan seems to love to toy with that idea and offer a dystopian (or is it utopian?) glimpse.


Jonathan Monaghan's works Soft Power I, Soft Power II and Alien Sofa I



Anne Spalter

Anne Spalter is an academic pioneer and a digital mixed media artist. In her artistic process, Spalter synthesizes a consistent set of personal symbols with traditional mark-making methods and innovative digital tools further combining AI algorithms with oil paints and pastels to create her unique and incredible works.

Spalter presents a surrealistic landscape in Lost Signals, a video loop and two of her pastel on paper works that abound in personal symbols even while striking a chord with the collective unconscious. The works are AI-generated and combined with traditional media integrating art and technology. One can see the use of light and lighthouses, an interest in signaling as a form of communication, as a warning and the connection that ensues through portals. There’s a sense of spiritual lacing with lighthouses as anchors that guide the wayward travelers, cautioning and communicating to them to be careful, all the while shedding the light and Spalter exploring that base. Again, this work is quite meditative to an observant viewer and deals with subconscious layers. Lighthouses and water are common themes and symbols in Spalter’s works.


Anne Spalter's work 'Electric Pathway to the Lighthouse'
In the background, Addie Wagenknecht's 'Ghost' series

You can also find an incredible code poem by Kenny R Brown.

Code poem by Kenny R Brown




Edward Galleghar, the Director of Galloire Art Gallery, giving a tour of the exhibition



At a time like the present when we are badly hit by the pandemic and when physical communication has been curbed, where our life is lived through digital screens, reminding us of the impact of technology and the reliance on it 24x7, this exhibition raises pertinent questions and becomes more prominent. Technology is advancing at such a pace that there’s no discerning as to where it will take us. It is not only forecasting but also generating and establishing a future.


<I am not a Robot> will run until 28 Feb 2022 at Galloire Art Gallery, London Street, City Walk, Dubai. You can also view the works via the gallery’s website https://www.galloire.com/

It is always better to see such exhibitions in person. Do visit the gallery and experience the show. Addie Wagenknecht and Daniel Canogar happen to be my personal favourites. Who are yours?


Thanks to Slava Noor and Edward Gallagher for the invite. 


*Anthropometry paintings are paintings where Yves Klein dipped nude women in his patented International Klein Blue paint in front of an invited audience along while the musicians played Klein’s Monotone Symphony – a single note played for twenty minutes followed by twenty minutes of silence.