If there has been one thing that has stood true to the ‘Theory of Evolution’, it is the human race. Its resilience, its perseverant nature has led it through the toughest of times. Though I am not eligible to comment on the cultural or social evolution, I believe that we have braved through innumerable crises and emerged victorious into a new world order.
More often than not, art has been one link that has managed to help us push through, especially in tough times. It was and still is considered one of the most reliable forms of documentation. It was, and still is, a chance for the society, especially creative minds, often touted as whimsical, to stay sane.
Europe has experienced its fair share of epidemics – like the bubonic plague (commonly known as black death) the Spanish Flu, and the most recent, ongoing one – Coronavirus. Throughout the pages of history, we see art showing us the way of life during these testing times. Like Pieter Bruegel the Elder who painted ‘Triumph of Death’ which showed us darkened, desolate landscapes, littered with skeletons and shipwrecks.
Not a pretty sight to behold!
But one look at the portrayal of these facts, we go back to those times. And the mark of a true artist can’t be anything other than his eye for details, or his vision, that depicted such events with unerring accuracy. True artists rose to fame and their works are displayed with due reverence at Museums like the Louvre, Prado, or the British Museum.
As we move towards an era of social distancing, diminishing human contact, art is now proving to be a saviour for many people.
Or is it?
As art evolved, the forms of its depictions evolved as well. Take for instance ‘Fantastic Voyage’, a beautiful commercial for Photoshop, that takes you to a different world, through its storytelling. Or Apple’s "Shot on iPhone" campaign, that took the art of photography to a whole new level, rendering the common people as artists.
As we live in a partially quarantined world, art is now perceived differently by different people. We see an invasion of artists, emerging on Instagram, Behance, Pinterest, even Etsy, and think, where were all these people before? Has art lost its meaning, now that we see it online in abundance?
Will art, created during the pandemic, be considered solid proof of how people survived the COVID-19 crisis and emerged stronger than the virus itself?
No matter what the situation is, all we have is hope.
As Toni Morrison rightly said,
“There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”
Picture Courtesy: National Museum of Prado.