The virus that almost stopped art.

Here we are again.
The second wave of the covid is going around the world again.

Theaters, exhibitions, art galleries are closing. In some places they reopen but under special conditions.
It is chaos.
Also because the international fairs have slowly been moved to 2021 or even 2022, the artist residences are frozen, the exhibitions are stopped everywhere.
I asked some artist friends how their art has been changed now that life is completely turned upside down by the virus.
The answers are interesting, especially because the covid affects every state differently, the covid waves are different and politics has reacted differently in every place.

I have two artist friends in Australia.
Nigel Laxton shared an online MoMA course with me several years ago and lives in Perth. His art explores the materiality of the contemporary using different mediums.
Nigel tells me a very different reality from Italy:

In many respects we have been lucky here in Australia with very few cases of the virus. Apart from a couple of months (March and April) where I decided to stay at home and not use my studio there was not much impact on my art. In fact I got more work done, as we did not go away on holiday, and I was also invited to a group exhibition as the scheduled ones had been cancelled. Our son moved to Sydney before the virus and so we have not seen him since February. That has been the worst part, but his job was safe and we used FaceTime to talk on a regular basis.

Another opportunity arose, quite by chance, as I met someone who was opening a gallery in an office space that was vacant due to the virus. It was meant to be a cafe but no one wanted to take a lease. It led to a solo  exhibition where I got good sales and also a good experience where I made some tactile paintings for blind people who were really appreciative of the experience.

Even though we were not affected much in Australia I was very aware of being in a global situation as I have many friends and family overseas in Europe. I was also disturbed by the spread of the virus in places like the USA and the politics of the situation worldwide. It seems that the economy comes before people’s health in some places. I do feel detached at the moment as we are prohibited to travel overseas and I cannot see that changing for a year or two. 

I haven’t really abandoned anything from my ‘old life’ but it has made me reflect on what is most important in life: essentially the simple things and people. I have spent more time in the garden, growing things and when I was restricted from my studio I made some jewellery at home and learnt how to make stop-motion videos. I also got out a lot more, walking and cycling when the gym was closed.

In summary, we have been very lucky here, although some of that is due to our politicians of all sides working together and being an island also helps. On the negative side there was not much support for the arts but hop fully that will change in the future.

Vivienne Bradshaw lives in The Entrance which is a district center and city in the Central Coast region of New South Wales, Australia.

Together we talked a lot about covid. In Italy there was already the virus while in Australia there were few cases of sick people, however very wisely she canceled a couple of trips because she understood that the situation between March and April, was becoming worrying all over the world. She writes:

Because of the virus, I now work daily painting. Every day so far since 13th March.

Art is how I’ve filled the days. And I’m very connected to the world in that I concern myself with how various leaders worldwide have managed NOT managed the pandemic.

My old life has all but gone.

We aren’t travelling.

We don’t see our friends as regularly.

Our family take care to keep us safe, and visit less.

In a word: isolated.

Although Australia has all but eradicated the virus, we are aware that the virus can take a turn for the worse. We await vaccine.

We are all waiting for a vaccine, however art is on physical standby in many places and is very present on the web.
Virtual galleries are invented, museums create virtual paths inside the rooms with the artworks, competitions are online.
We are creating on one hand the physical works, with colors, canvases, brushes, and on the other hand all this physicality is presented to the world in a virtual way.

My friend Silvestre Miranda lives in Mexico, Tijuana.
The situation in his country is not very different from the rest of the world.
However, he has also tried to find a way to express himself, despite the difficulties.
He writes to me:

My art during covid.

  • Exploration of bettering my tecnique on the male form and the portrait.
  • Themed art during covid: Solitude, selfworth, specifically the self pics of followers. I found that people: guys reached out to me to paint them. And this was so new to me.
  • Exploration of the abstract, using color to create a feeling of happinness in lonley times,  representing the lonely figure. And also using drab colors to represent a feeling of “greyness“: sadness, melancoly related to not being able to see most of friends. And the lack of physical contact. Perception: I do perceive this as a global fenomena. In the beginning I felt lonely with, just me and family. Later started a connection reaching out through social media. In fact this is how you and I met!
  • Changes in art: Partially abandoned, precisely, the use water as an organic theme. And more angular shapes through color on nude male studies.

Here is the key to this moment: art is perhaps more connected in the world, because we have a common and contemporary problem.
We have no choice. We are all living together at the same time, an identical problem.
Maybe it is not a bad thing to share, maybe we will understand better in some time. In the meantime our daily life as artists is changing, and the perception of reality, matter, colors, shapes is also changing.

All that remains for us to do is to analyze society and guess how it will change. In this second wave of the virus we are no longer prepared to face it, but we know that we must fight a virus all together.
Will a common artistic theme be born? Will we try to forget the virus?
We do not know.
But in the meantime I turn the question over to you: how has your way of making art changed in this 2020 because of the virus?

If you want to read something about the first wave of the virus, HERE is another article that complements this one.

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