Saskia Fernando

With the considerably distinct shift in medium, how does one perceive and experience art the same way they would in actuality? Art conveyed through a screen could be felt differently than a portrait hung on a gallery’s white walls, framed eloquently to enhance the meaning of the picture. To art platforms, a crossroad has been reached. The alternate dimensions have been presented in intriguing manners for the viewing of art. Saskia Fernando of Saskia Fernando Gallery has taken on the task of building an online viewing room to provide art enthusiasts, collectors and artists alike to still be able to carry out their role through digital platforms. The natures of their digital medium have been credible in sharing nuances in relation to the way viewers perceive art and receives its intense enigmatic pursuit.

Saskia Fernando, the founding force of the largest contemporary art gallery in the island, incepted the gallery in 2009, which houses two exhibition spaces and a private viewing gallery supporting the professional careers of both established and emerging artists who are characterizing the landscape and identity of Sri Lankan contemporary art. Recognized as ARTRA’s Iconic Women, shaping the growth of the art & creative industries in Sri Lanka in its inaugural edition in April/May 2018, Saskia Fernando has played a critical role in creating a sustainable structure for the Sri Lankan gallery scene. In conversation with Saskia, she expounds on the measures Saskia Fernando Gallery has taken upon optimizing digital mediums in its professional pursuits.

Q | As a gallerist, how have you optimized the digital platforms in exhibiting artworks?

A | Our digital platforms have been set up to feature portfolios, projects and exhibitions for some time now however, we began using our new Viewing Room feature on our site to continue our calendar of shows entirely online during the lockdown. In addition we ran a series of live studios sessions with artists on Instagram, this has since developed into a YouTube channel where we produce open studio sessions and archive them, a Podcast channel on SoundCloud where we record and upload interviews and conversations with artists, curators and collaborators of the gallery and finally our IGTV now featured all the Open Studio sessions as well as short series of artists discussing new bodies of works.

Q | What measures did you take to translate the viewing experience virtually?

A | We had already begun the transition to strengthen our digital space at the end of last year as much of our audience is based internationally. We work with the leading database and website developer for galleries in the world and this means we have a fantastic set up that works perfectly for our operation. We had to work around the fact that the entire exhibition could not be physically installed and artists could not necessarily be accessed but we made it work by connecting them via social media. The result was well received and exciting for us to develop.

Q | What do virtual exhibitions offer, that the physical spaces don’t?

A | Naturally the ease of engaging with an entire exhibition from the comfort of your bed if you so choose. For people who generally don’t have the time or are not located in Sri Lanka it allows us to reach a wider audience. 

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19th August, 2020 Visual Art | Paintings