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“The Virus,” oil on canvas, by Louis Markoya.

“Louis Markoya: A Deeper Understanding” will be on view beginning Saturday, Aug. 28, at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, 600 E. Klosterman Road, Tarpon Springs. The museum is found on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College.

An opening reception will take place Friday, Aug. 27, 6 to 8 p.m., in the museum lobby. The event is free to museum members. For nonmembers, a donation of $10 is suggested.

The exhibition will continue through Feb. 6, 2022.

Louis Markoya — a former protégé of master surrealist Salvador Dalí — is a multi-media artist and engineer who is bringing modern technology into classical art. Markoya merges the tradition of oil painting with fractal geometry, mathematics and 3-D holographic technology to depict human thought and emotion. Featuring more than 70 oil paintings, sculptures and interactive lenticular prints, this retrospective exhibition dives deep into Markoya’s fascinating cerebral world. From his time spent with the master surrealist to his more recent exploration of fractal imagery, this exhibition also includes rare collaborative works by Dalí from Markoya’s personal collection, LED- illuminated lenticular prints and chessboard, and a 3-D film experience.

Markoya began his artistic career working for Dalí in 1971 in New York City. Exposed to a world of fine art, celebrity, and invention, he became interested in lenticular prints while assisting Dalí on 3-D projects that included holograms. Since his time with Dalí, Markoya spent 34 years as a research scientist and engineer and developed more than 30 patents that employed complex animations and holography.

Markoya has been on the forefront of art and technology, including 3-D graphics, since the advent of personal computers in the 1980s. In recent years, the introduction of 3-D fractals ignited his creative desire to push the envelope of modern art. Using fractals, which are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales, Markoya reveals his vision of the inner workings of the human mind. Merging this technology with lenticular lens printing, he has created the ultimate viewing experience — an illusion of dimension that artists have been seeking to capture to since the Renaissance.

“Leading the evolution of Surrealism and Nuclear Mystical art into the digital age, Markoya’s innovative work transcends Dalí’s visions of bringing art into the third dimension,” a museum press release explains. “Journeying into the far reaches of his mind, Markoya challenges our perception of reality as we discover an alternate universe that is infinite in its complex beauty.”

Relocating to St. Petersburg in 2020, Markoya’s output has been prolific and includes a new series of paintings inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. From these paintings, he created high-resolution 3-D lenticular prints that visualize the unseen forces of the virus and envelopes the viewer with remarkable depth.

“This small series of paintings is dedicated to everyone affected by the deadly pandemic we are experiencing and tries to bring my outlook and insight into the world condition,” Markoya states on his own website. “The first in the series ‘The Virus’ depicts the virus as a figure, not as the invisible sphere covered with red and orange triangles we see in the news everywhere. I have made the virus a figure because ultimately we are the enemy who has contracted, spread and proliferated this disease. It is our social habits, and in some cases, our governments lack of action and concern that has turned us into the carriers of death and destruction.”

The virus is painted to share the traits of nature where brightly colored exteriors give a warning of the danger within, the artists explains.

“‘The Virus’ stands in a void landscape with the storm it conjures as a sole figure watches, also turned alien by its isolation and fear,” Markoya continues. “‘The Virus’ is both bright and slightly seductive as it infiltrates the worlds of people, who as humans have a real need for contact, to express love, compassion and caring. It enters and slaughters those who fail to restrict themselves from all that we have come to know as the human condition. ‘The Virus’ represents every fear most of us have never had or dreamed of, yet has always existed as an outside chance, in a world ever more complex and full of chance. The textures of these figures act as an evolution of the techniques I used to combine the Apollonian and Dionysian, to bring what Nietzsche believed to be the ultimate beauty in art.”

For a deeper understanding of Markoya’s art, visitors are encouraged to use their smart phones to access the QR codes throughout the gallery. Markoya’s mind-bending 3-D short film “Strange Attractors” offers an immersive experience when viewed with 3-D glasses. In addition, LRMA has partnered with St. Petersburg College’s Innovation Lab and Online Learning faculty to bring Markoya’s art to life in Virtual Reality, which will be featured in a special program this fall.

Museum schedules Markoya exhibit programs 

An artist talk featuring Louis Markoya will take place Sunday, Aug. 29, 3 p.m., in the auditorium at the SPC Tarpon Springs campus. The program is free for museum members. For nonmembers, a donation of $10 is suggested.

Art + Tech Talk will be presented Thursday, Oct. 7, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.; and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., in the auditorium at the SPC Tarpon Springs campus. LRMA curator Christine Renc-Carter will discuss art, 3-D technology and virtual reality with SPC Innovation Lab director Chad Mairn and artist Markoya. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience Markoya’s 3-D short film “Strange Attractors” in VR.

About the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

Opened to the public in 2002, LRMA is a modern and contemporary art museum with a collection of more than 6,000 works of 20th and 21st century art. The museum’s permanent collection includes works by Abraham Rattner, a renowned figurative expressionist; Esther Gentle, Rattner’s second wife and a printmaker, sculptor and painter; Allen Leepa, Rattner’s step-son and an abstract expressionist artist; and an extensive collection of works by notable 20th century artists such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger and Henry Moore. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction held by only 6 percent of all U.S. museums.

LRMA is at 600 E. Klosterman Road, on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is by donation.