World Art Day: How artists are coping up with the Covid-19 crisis

Updated on Apr 15, 2020 12:24 PM IST

With exhibitions and art galleries closed due to the lockdown, we talk to some artists about their plans for World Art Day and their thoughts on the industry been impacted by the corona crisis

The Coronavirus pandemic has brought challenges to the art industry. (above) Artwork t titled Corona Talisman by artist Richa Navani
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought challenges to the art industry. (above) Artwork t titled Corona Talisman by artist Richa Navani
Hindustan Times | ByGrace Cyril

From museums to galleries, everything is shut. We are under a lockdown and there are no art aficionados discussing the imaginations and strokes of an artist, or art lovers at an exhibit, admiring a piece of art. In this day and age of social distancing, the world of art is not the same.

As we celebrate World Art Day today, we speak to renowned artists on the impact of this pandemic induced by the coronavirus as the industry takes a hit.

Delhi based French artist Stephanie Arpels says, “The pandemic has significantly impacted the art industry, including my recent solo exhibitions which I was forced to close early.”

While artist Yuriko Lochan feels that things are slowing down and the future is uncertain, artist Rajeev Lochan feels the Covid-19 pandemic is making people reflect on their lives. “It is giving us enough time to introspect and not to forget that art is not about representing or replicating reality. It is something that comes from your deeper recesses of your existence,” he says adding that art comes first then the industry.

Woman confined in introspection by Delhi based French artist Stephanie Arpels
Woman confined in introspection by Delhi based French artist Stephanie Arpels

For artist Probir Gupta, art is activism and not just sales. He says, “When we started, there wasn’t any art market. We knew we would be practising art as an ideological commitment and would do everything and anything to sustain.”

And for photography, it has left a limited scope as well. Ace photographer, Raghu Rai says, “The enormity of it is huge but visual experiences very few. How many pictures can we take of people wearing masks, being checked by the police, etc? Like Bhopal gas tragedy or Bangladesh war was visible, this is such a hidden and unpredictable enemy to give a visual experience.”

He adds that the economy has taken a huge hit. “Things were not good in the art world, sale and everything else. Very few people buy works. So to come out of it is going to be a challenge.”

Artwork by artists Savya Jain titled - Converstion in Times of Corona
Artwork by artists Savya Jain titled - Converstion in Times of Corona

However, in a way, the art industry has grown stronger. Artist Savya Jain says, “Artists now have a movement to paint about, a movement they’d all be associated with forever. They have time to help and critic each other’s work which I feel makes an artist and the art more powerful.”

During lockdown, the world is surviving on art: music, books and movies. So art will definitely not affect people who are practising it seriously, as artist Richa Navani says. She adds that the “industry will be affected economically though”.

Art titled Corona Talisman by artist Richa Navani
Art titled Corona Talisman by artist Richa Navani

This however has also given rise to the trend of virtual art exhibits. Curators have resorted to online exhibitions as an alternative, for art lovers to browse content digitally. However artist Sanjay Bhattacharya feels that “one needs peace of mind to watch art and online exhibits are of not use”. But artist and curator Alka Raghuvanshi supports this move and says, “It’s a good alternative because at this moment, there’s no choice. It’s a great way to reach out to a much wider audience. It’s like how you may never get to see the Mona Lisa face-to-face but with given technology, you don’t have to travel all the way there.”

Confined series by artist Sanjay Bhattacharya
Confined series by artist Sanjay Bhattacharya

Lockdown hasn’t dampened the spirits of these artists as they have been keeping themselves busy in their studios and home. While Navani has been making drawings on paper and working on one installation - a continuation of her perforation series, Savya will be painting her walls as a tribute to World Art Day. Artist Naresh Kapuria has been using this time to self introspect and has also set up his studio as he continues to work on his art. Bhattacharya says, “Within this time, I have finished three paintings and working on fourth. But the point is – once it’s finished, it has to be transported to my client’s house which is not happening.”

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