Blending real and virtual

Blending real and virtual

This is an innovative hybrid show that featured sculptures as well as a digital collection.

Sunita Lamba

In the current, quickly evolving times, various industries and businesses have had to learn how to function entirely or largely through virtual platforms. The art world, in particular, has seen more virtual engagement by galleries and artists recently, be it through social media, online classes or revamped websites. Even as this virtual art space grows, as social distancing plods on and more public spaces open up, it is clear we cannot do away with physical events entirely either.

With ‘Split & Share’, gallery g blends these two worlds together in an innovative ‘hybrid’ show, which brought the work of three Delhi-based artists to Bengaluru. The first section of the show featured sculptures by artists Sunita Lamba and Tarun Maity, on display at the gallery space. The second section of the blended showcase was digital — an e-catalogue where the works of celebrated sculptor K S Radhakrishnan have been curated.

Emotional bonds

Emerging out of high demand in the local art community for bronze sculptures, the show has generated significant interest among the gallery’s patrons. The sculptures in bronze successfully capture the unique beauty of the medium itself. Lamba’s depiction of the human form and close emotional bonds bring a delightful sense of gentleness as well as emotion and movement to her pieces.

The beauty of Maity’s work, on the other hand, lies in its intensity, representing the inner anxieties within us through its portrayal of animals and birds. “As an artist, I try to highlight the situation of the society, vis-à-vis the natural environment I grew up in Kakdwip, near the Sundarban forest,” explained Maity.

Finding new ways

While the physical show offers a stunning display, the brilliance of Radhakrishnan’s sculptures is not lost in the virtual showcase. Featuring high-resolution photographs of pieces from his well-known ‘Musui & Maiya’ series, the online gallery also includes details of the size, price and even the weight for potential buyers. The online model has ensured that the globally renowned sculptor’s works are shared easily with art enthusiasts in Bengaluru.

Displaying art and interacting with interested buyers digitally is not new to the gallery. As was the case with their previous showcase held last month, several pieces are being displayed and sold virtually during the pandemic. In fact, two of the pieces on display at ‘Split & Share’ have already been sold remotely, to a buyer in another city.

The split format enables the show to accommodate a wider range of tastes and types of buyers. The virtual section of the display invites the interest of more seasoned art collectors, hoping specifically to own one of Radhakrishnan’s works. The in-gallery showcase invites new buyers and those looking to own more works in bronze to see the pieces for themselves. It also allows regulars to explore and support newer artists.

The option of a virtual display is certainly one to consider, since it overcomes the logistical challenges of shipping each sculpture, often times in custom-made crates. This is particularly beneficial for younger and newer artists who may find it challenging to cover the cost of transporting their work to galleries in different cities.

“Our main goal is to do the best for artists during this time. We want to give them a greater reach. Through this format, we are able to highlight the styles and works that are relatively new to the local art community,” says Gitanjali Maini, Founder and Managing Director of gallery g.

While some may miss the buzz of an opening night or a physical show, the online format holds significant potential. It allows galleries to highlight styles and works from across the country, while offering more options to support and invest in new artists. Virtual events also enable the art community to explore and engage with novel formats.

In the case of gallery g and Bengaluru’s art enthusiasts, this has included seminars, celebrations of artists and monodramas streamed virtually. “Embracing technology is working for us; it has made all the difference. It helps us feature and support more artists, especially during this otherwise difficult time. It has ensured that even during a pandemic, despite all that is going on, the arts need not be put on hold at all,” muses Gitanjali.