The virtual frontiers of art

Tapestries of Fading Gardens says a lot about the future of art shows — visit an exhibition from the comfort of your home sofa

Source 1x1 Art Gallery.

In this time of worldwide social distancing and lockdowns, museums around the world are offering a virtual tour (VR) of their spaces and artworks.

VR is a popular form of immersive digital simulation used by millions of video game players at home. The art world understands, now more than ever, the benefit of channelling an online presence for people to experience art from the comfort of their homes. The online tour seamlessly stitches together photographs from the show space to create a 3D environment.

Alserkal Avenue is Dubai’s arts and culture district has recently become a prominent international contemporary art hub. They are currently hosting the first completely digital online access of their entire gallery repertoire. A viewer can explore the 19 new exhibitions, 80-plus artists with over 300 artworks from Dubai and other countries, including Japan, Palestine and the United Kingdom.

The high definition, 360-degree views are simple to navigate with a double-tap to zoom into artworks. There are informative links that connect the viewer to artists and galleries, making the experience feel as real as possible. A digital walk can be carefully curated by using gallery floor maps and red dots holding information about each individual artwork. Its 360-degree viewing angles feel intuitive and natural, and can be navigated easily with a mouse or by simply swiping a touchscreen.

The exhibition titled Tapestries of Fading Gardens showcases artworks by 16 Pakistani artists, hosted by 1x1 Gallery on Alserkal Avenue. Artists participating in the show are Salima Hashmi, Ali Kazim, Saba Qizilbash, Wardha Shabbir, Sarah Ahmad, Affan Baghpati, Adeela Suleman, Ghulam Mohammad, Shakila Haider, Adnan Farrukh, Maheen Kazim, Shah Abdullah Alamee, Muzzumil Ruheel, Huma Iftikhar, Yasir Waqas and Sheraz Faisal. These are some of the most prominent contemporary artists of Pakistan, showing alongside upcoming and emerging talent.

The exhibition is meticulously curated with drawings, sculpture, installations and paintings that can be viewed intimately by pulling the screen close or following the links to large high-resolution photographs of artworks. There are minimalist monochrome landscapes by Qizilbash and Ahmed, paired against non-representative line-work and geometry of Iftikhar, Mohammad and Ruheel. There are highly stylised sculptural works by Suleman, Baghpati and Waqas that allow the viewer to feel the scale of the gallery and other artworks hanging on the walls.

Adnan’s pen, ink and silver-leaf on canvas is a large-scale painting, titled Immense I, that is contrasted by the brightly painted yellow wall where A study of an object by Shabbir is hanging. Both these works are an exploration of a simple object with the complex layering that feels desolate and otherworldly. Each artwork has the dimensions written but viewers are also invited to use the ruler feature placed on the bottom left of the screen to measure artworks themselves. Other works by Adnan are larger in scale but the soft rendering of shapes and forms make them lightweight and subtle in their presence.

Alamee and Haider are both originally from Quetta. Where the paintings of Alamee are reminiscent of traditional calligraphy with large bold swinging ink strokes, the miniature intricate works of Haider are multi-coloured and controlled. He creates a macro lens perspective that carries you from traditional calligraphy into something modern whereas Haider uses a modern technique like collage and weaving to create seemingly traditional tapestries.

If necessity is the mother of invention then social distancing has pushed Pakistani art and artists to a new frontier of international digital exposure. 

Follow the website link to see the show from the comfort of your home sofa.

The show opened on March 23, 2020 and will continue until May 10, 2020.

The virtual frontiers of art