Art for survival’s sake: This is how various artists across India are staying relevant during lockdown
The backdrop is a soulful shade of blue. A man sits on his haunches on a railway track and the caption reads, “Mujhe ghar jana hai”. Another illustration titled as The Perfect Omelette Flip shows a man working his way around a poached egg. Graphic artist Prince Lunawara’s Instagram account puts our lockdown experiences into perspective. He says, “the universality of our current mental states is amusing.”
Perhaps, as Pablo Picasso had once said, everything we can imagine is indeed real. Only recently, Amplifier -- a non-profit design lab in the United States (US) -- that builds art and media experiments to strengthen “some of the most important movements of our times”, announced a global campaign on social media inviting artwork relevant to the Covid-19 situation. The lab also declared cash prizes worth USD 1,000 for creations that got selected. The 41-day lockdown has led to several impactful initiatives across fields. With more and more independent freelance workers, losing their target groups due to the pandemic, city-based artists tell us about their curfew diaries, re-adjusted modes of expression and if campaigns promising money actually make art powerful.
Daily struggles, mental health, sketches on awareness
Prince’s work is a representation of tiredness, confinement, freedom and novel tasks amidst a combination of enforced feelings. “The visual medium is very effective for expression. If power means enhanced reach, global campaigns can extend a hand. It builds a platform for artists to reach a wider audience, gain popularity and unite over a single agenda,” he says.
Pearl D’souza is fighting janta curfew with her family in Goa. She believes, the lockdown is making us face life like never before, it is making us feel and notice every second. “Everything you ever brushed aside has now come to the forefront,” she mentions. Pearl has been journaling to navigate through her realisations. She says, “My art allows me to talk. I draw my family in times of joy and pain. I draw more fantastical ideas when I want to distance myself from reality.” Ask her about paid global art drives and Pearl explains that although they are a great opportunity to tap talent and encourage effort with money, they also hint at accessibility. “It is important to ask who can access such campaigns... which voices and from where get amplified,” she concludes.
This doodler goes by the name of toontwister on the gram. Her profile has simple, flowchart-like sketchnotes on trending topics. Nitasha Nambiar, who has lived in Mumbai for as long as she can remember says, “Being someone who can’t find the right words, sketching or doodling comes to my rescue. My cartoons make light of a situation”. She further says, “My sketchnotes are often about significant information on the pandemic. Something the masses can access and make sense of. I think campaigns with or without money help independent creators to arouse awareness about public interest issues. They also help communities collaborate,” the doodler signs off.