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Art in the Age of a Pandemic

Currently at Foam museum, there is a small exhibition with several Gerrit Rietveld graduates.Their work ranges from small handbooks about their lives, to photographs on silk sheets, to feminist videos. However, all were connected, in that all commented on the pandemic in someway.
This brought me to consider the affect the pandemic has had on artists. With limited access to studios and materials, did their medium or style change? With everyone being forced to spend far more time inside, with less social interaction, did this allow artists more time to create? Or did this time inside create a shift in their artwork? Furthermore, has this pandemic and the looming recession caused artists to reconsider their creative profession, or drive them to commit to it further?
In order to answer these questions, I interviewed several young artists, all of whom have very different styles, mediums and connections to the art world. My central question for all of them was, do you feel the pandemic has changed you artistically?
The first artist I interviewed was Julia, an Amsterdam native, whose paintings range from colourful portraits to matisse-esque dancing bodies. When asked if the pandemic had affected her art, she commented how her work became more dystopian and heavier, a darker narrative within her pieces. This shift in her work was because for Julia, her creations are linked to her state of being. As her state of being changed in the pandemic, so did her art.
Julia also noted how since the pandemic, she developed an interest in using body paint, using the human body as a temporary canvas. She considered how this use of body paint in her work, developed from the reduction in physical contact caused by the pandemic. How the texture of skin is more alienated from us, and therefore creates more fascination.
I was also intrigued to consider whether Julia’s living situation (in a studio apartment) had affected her art at all. On this, Julia commented how she was forced to spend time with her art,as most of it is in her room and a lot on her walls. This caused her time to reflect on her old works and also where she would like to go with her art.

If you would like to see more of Julias’s art, you can check out her art Instagram @drawingsbyjuliam!
Anne-Marie Dimanche is a Philippino artist who also works as a fashion intern alongside university. Anne-Marie’s style and content is incredibly broad, but one thing I noted about her art is she always includes layers, or levels that offer different meanings.
Anne-Marie argued how the pandemic had a definitive effect on her art style, in part due to having more time available to work on her art, but also how her mental state pushed her to be more experimental and outgoing with her art. In line with this, she considered how her works had become more emotionally charged in the last few months due to her using art as a coping mechanism.
For Anne-Marie, living in student accommodation with other creatives during the pandemic has meant that she has been able to start working on collaborative and impromptu projects with others. As well as this, she has found a new appreciation for her art and creative expression, in a way she hadn’t before. She commented how there is something so gratifying and beautiful in creating art, and how for her, it’s been a beacon of light in this global situation.

If you would like to see more of Anne-Marie’s art, you can check out her Instagram @johnnydepressing!
The final artist I interviewed was Morrison, an artist and entrepreneur, who owns an art gallery, runs a creative agency and a record label. I discussed with him, both how his own art has been affected by the pandemic, but also more broadly how the creatives he manages also have been affected by the pandemic.
Morrison started the discussion with how his art has always been focused on geo-politics and the global perspective of the world, so for him the content of his art wasn’t hugely affected, but he did notice a greater sense of clarity or focus in his art. He also considered how many young artists, as well as himself, were finding this central focus for their art. These artists also seemed to find a sort of freedom in the pandemic, they had the time to work towards their already existing goals but also to work on more experimental and newer projects. This reminded me ofAnne-Marie’s comment of how she felt her artwork was pushed further during this time.
The conversation quickly moved to the current state of the art market, and how much selling has been affected by the pandemic, especially since galleries have only been able to be open for such a small portion of the year. Morrison talked about a hesitation that buyers were experiencing, art collectors seemed to be prioritising buying art less. For instance, one collector chose to remodel his house to make it more comfortable for home working instead of buying more art, priorities had changed for many in the art community. This shifting of priorities has not just been with buyers, but also artists themselves, with those who lack the commitment or drive looking for employment in different fields. Since the market is currently so over-saturated, this may have an interesting impact on the art market in the next coming years.
This conversation with Morrison, showed how broadly the pandemic has impacted the arts, with artists' focus shifting, buyers becoming more hesitant and galleries having to adapt to long-term closures. It also showed how versatile one needs to be when working as a creative, constantly adapting to situations, especially with Morrison’s geo-political focus in his art.

If you would like to check out more of Morrison’s work, his Instagram is @morrison.originals!

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