When the world went into lockdown and life, for the first time in recent history, suddenly slipped out of control, you may have found yourself taking up an artistic hobby. But how has the pandemic affected art and what can the same four walls do to a creative mind?
Since we have existed, we have been creating art that draws from our own experiences, emotions and responses to the world around us. From Schiele's art detailing his experience with Spanish influenza to the nonsensical Dada movement following World War I, it’s no secret that artists are influenced by the ever-changing world around us.
As an online marketplace, we were lucky enough to remain open during the pandemic. Whether fuelled by escapism or simply boredom, we have selected some thought provoking pieces that capture a range of emotions from our year indoors.
So, turn your Zoom camera off and have your banana bread at the ready as we look a little further into the recent pandemic-inspired creations by Artfinder artists.
As tactile creatures, many of us struggled during the pandemic with social distancing and our frustrations with not being able to spend time with friends, family and those we love. Slasky portrays this fantastically through his digital printed piece, Valentines Day 2020, depicting two cherubs wearing nothing but masks.
Slasky creates imaginative, thought provoking pieces which bring a modern feel to classic art. The image — as with much of Slasky’s work — plays with juxtaposition and the contrast between neutrals and pops of colour.
Slasky comments that art comes in many forms, and that art isn’t purely based on talent but provoking thought and emotion:
“I find people often tend to class digital art as ‘inferior’ to other artistic movements of the past. Digital artists are seen as people who have ‘smart ideas’ rather than as artists who actually ‘create’ art."
"I think it's a common misconception of digital art in general. Italy, where I live, is a good example. The belief digital art isn't as worthy as other kinds of art is made stronger by our significant historical past. For centuries an artist’s worth was evaluated based on their practical skills, with little attention paid to the concept behind the work itself."
"Masks and gloves ... have become indispensable, like ordinary socks, without them we do not leave the house, without them we are not welcome anywhere."
Alexandra Volodina’s time indoors sparked the creation of Now Clean, which perfectly captures how easily the extraordinary became ordinary life. This oil painting illustrates how reusable masks and gloves now get strung up to dry and often go missing just like common odd socks. A necessity, but often, a pain.
Alexandra comments on how the pandemic influenced her work and how eager she was to capture the essence of life after COVID-19:
“The series is dedicated to the pandemic, which brought new attributes into our lives — masks and gloves. They have become indispensable, like ordinary socks, without them we do not leave the house, without them we are not welcome anywhere.”
The piece touches on how quick we are to adapt to a new normal, with brands printing their logos on masks and viral videos of birds caught using PPE as nesting material. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as it highlights just how adaptable we are to even the scariest and outright bizarre global events. Alexandra works mainly within realism, advising that sometimes events inspire socially impacted artwork and other times, she finds pleasure in landscapes and still life.
“I cannot imagine my life without art, it completely captivates me and has become a way of life.”
Rainbows have always been a symbol of hope and happiness, but during 2020, the rainbow became a symbol of so much more. A rainbow held such importance and gratitude for NHS staff in the UK in particular, who risked their lives on the frontline to save others. Helen Maxfield’s linocut, Hope, reminds us of this, and how much the UK is built on our amazing National Health Service.
Helen’s comments on the importance of this image and her gratitude to all key workers.
“This little linoprint, in my usual style (using the medium of reduction linocut) and subject matter (the Suffolk landscape) is a nod to the rainbow symbol and in gratitude to all the NHS and key workers. It is the combination of a reduction lino print with a bit of the jigsaw method thrown in to deal with all the colours of the rainbow!”
Helen’s colourful linocut designs are created using the reduction method, where each colour is printed one at a time and further lino is carved away in-between printing. There are a number of beautifully carved linocuts available on her Artfinder shop.
In this wonderfully emotive piece, Katy McKidd Stevenson depicts the harsh truth behind the pandemic through her impressionistic portrait, Emma, Cardiac Scientist.
Katy explains how moved by the image she was and knew she needed to recreate it as an oil painting.
“I saw Emma on a Facebook post where she showed her wee tired face with marks left from the PPE she had to wear on the frontline, trying to save COVID-19 patients in hospital - she meant to share it with friends and family, but her post went viral. I loved her face and asked her if I could paint it, and she kindly agreed.”
The indentations left on Emma’s face provide an insight into the cruel reality of doctors and nurses on the frontline, with PPE leaving both a physical and mental mark on our selfless key workers.
There is a sense of rawness to Katy’s impressionistic portraits and the astonishing way she is able to capture life and emotions in the faces of those she has painted.
"We are living through a time of change and artistic expression, and sometimes, in the moment, you aren't aware that you’re a part of history in the making."
Jan Lee Johnson also reminds us of these trying times with her digital piece, Monochrome Lockdown.
“This is a monochrome version of a bizarrely wrapped bench using hazard tape.”
It draws on the idea that everyday life became hazardous during the pandemic, and that simple pleasures of the outside world, such as sitting on a park bench, were prohibited. We are drawn to the rainbow in the background, making the house glow like a light at the end of the tunnel or a rainbow after the storm.
We would also argue that this could be seen as a sign of hope — which seems to be a recurring theme amongst pandemic-inspired works. Jan’s piece feels like hope; there will be an end to the rain, or perhaps a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow to give key workers a well-deserved raise.
While we still face a global pandemic and lockdowns, it’s sometimes hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we are also living through a time of change and artistic expression, and sometimes, in the moment, you aren't aware that you’re a part of history in the making.
Header image credit: Sabrina Spreafico