Image source: AORA
The current COVID-19 situation makes some of us may feel less inclined to visit art museums and galleries the way we use to. Now comes the time to explore space and art in a different way.

Clicking around the internet for inspirations, I discovered AORA– their website describes it as “a virtual platform that instills a sense of calm and wellbeing through the curated meeting of art, architecture and music.”

Their use of color induces a sense of calm and minimizes fatigue. Behind the introductory text, the background gradually fades between soft ochre and lavender, the colors that reminds one of our connection to the earth.

Image source: AORA
The experience of AORA simulates the physical navigation of an individual through exhibition space. Provided with a menu of keys for how and where to go, I pointed upward and saw an open ceiling reminding me of James Turrell’s Roden Crater.

What enlivens the atmosphere of this virtual space is in the playing with light and color. For stance, the varying shades of grey convey lighting conditions that also mimic the effect of a skylight. The neutrality of the color creates an ideal situation for viewing the artworks- at times darkened and other times lit up. The display does not occupy every single wall space, and the introduction of “emptiness” heightens the material quality in the works.

Stepping into the entrance hall, there lingers the flavor of being inside a modern temple, as a series of rounded archways embraces and shelters the visitor.

There are three galleries within the virtual space, to demarcate your arrival, it is nuanced by three different sound pieces composed specially for the exhibition. The collection on display comprise both abstract and figurative works. All the them are special in their own ways, I picked three based on their formal qualities.

Image source: AORA
Entering Gallery 1, I pick Mandy El-Sayegh’s Windows 6 (leave), 2018 for its intricacy. Mesmerizing to the viewer, this piece points to the artist's relentless process of rendering with blue ink until a complex of labyrinths began to emerge one after another. The overall fluidity makes the elements in this painting seem as if alive and moving.

In the adjacent is Gallery 3, just before reaching the end, I notice Selection, partial movement, 2018 by Dashiell Manley for its formal repetition and texture made with layered paint. When zoomed in, one can see the artist’s use of palette knife for the application of paint and colors, in such a way its imprints become the motif competing with the pastel shades of yellow and blue. But the tension resolves in a rhythmic visual harmony.

Image source AORA

Image source: AORA
Gallery 2 is in what looks like an alcove, it is a room with a reflecting pool echoing “the light” from the open ceiling above. Here, I pick Peter McDonald’s Place, 2018. Compared to the previous two, this one though dominated by color abstraction contains a figurative element. In the bottom of the pink square is a set of utensils, a fork, a knife and a spoon. The element teases out a narrative taking place at mealtime. Yet, the overall composition driven by juxtaposing geometry adds a dimension of ambiguity. Is this a scene of waiting? Is the guest missing or is our meal missing? With these whimsical questions, the visitor steps back, passing the reflecting pool and continues her meditation.


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