Launched from Singapore, a new online showcase charts how global artists are reacting to sweeping lockdowns with renewed creativity.
You might have seen the memes floating around social media on how Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Macbeth while in quarantine from the plague, and that Isaac Newton made his world-changing discoveries on gravity during a similar period of self-isolation. The impact of major disease outbreaks on the development of science and the arts has suddenly gained a new relevance in these times. With galleries off-limits to the public in cities across the globe, how are painters and other creatives dealing with the effects of social distancing? Instinc, an independent Singaporean contemporary art space founded in 2004 by the San Francisco–trained local artist Shih Yun Yeo, offers up a unique perspective on how the pandemic is impacting people on an individual level.
Instinc has just launched “14-days Stay Home Notice,” an online exhibition that “brings together the emotional perspectives, stories, expressions and curious explorations of 14 isolated artists” as they navigate “the uncharted itinerary between extraordinary isolation and creativity.” Running until August 26, it will showcase a growing collection of artworks inspired by or created in our current state of social isolation.
Both Singaporean and international creatives are represented. Yeo’s Code Orange depicts a man in a face mask with Van Gogh–like brushstrokes and colors; New York–based Margaret Lanzetta is exhibiting a series of silkscreened works on rags of Indian cotton, printed with miscellaneous patterns taken from the various countries and regions where she has previously lived, including India, Southeast Asia, and North Africa. Korean artist Park Shin-Young reflects on how Covid-19’s perception as an “Asian virus” has brought underlying racism and xenophobia boiling to the surface in the West, while Spanish painter Alba Escayo has contributed two pieces including Home, a dreamlike imaginary landscape in splashes of turquoise, fuchsia, and lilac.
Viewers have the option to purchase any artwork on display, with 25 percent of proceeds going toward the WHO’s new COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, whose initial donations are being directed to UNICEF as it works with vulnerable children and communities worldwide to improve access to clean water and sanitation while implementing infection control measures. Naturally, harnessing art for a good cause is a much-needed response to these unprecedented times.