Artists finding inspiration from COVID-19

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Some artists are swapping gallery exhibitions and showcases for virtual ones, as most of the world remains on lockdown. And there’s no lack of creativity and innovation as some have found inspiration from the global pandemic.

Artist Philiswa Lila has been productive during this time, completing sculptures and paintings for upcoming projects. After previously shying away from social media, she is now frequently online, engaging with clients and peers.

“Now it has meant checking in and posting something and even seeing what your fellow artists are doing out there and how everyone else is coping and as much as we might now know each other personally – professionally it matters that we know what is happening in our industry,” Lila says.

She was scheduled to showcase her solo-exhibition titled “Skin, Bone and Fire: The First Album” earlier in April. Following the cancellation of the show due to COVID-19, a 3D exhibition was launched by the North-West University gallery, which gives the public a virtual tour.

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“They did a 3D tour of the exhibition which was curated by Amogelang Mohadjane and I have to commend her for the initiative because it was done at a time when everyone was confused,” says Lila, adding “so pushed just in time for it to be documented by the videographers for it to be seen digitally. The Melrose Gallery has also documented the work very well and then generating sales – collectors are also looking at digital work now.”

Another artist who is popularly known for his colourful murals around Soweto says being confined to his studio is nothing new to him.

“I have been quarantined since the beginning of my career because I spend a lot of my time in my studio. I have been travelling a lot so I have a lot of pictures in my head hence when I am in my studio I am able to reflect what I witness every day. I really have a lot of stories to tell in my mind,” says Senzo Nhlapo, a seasoned street artist.

Like Lila, he is turning to the web during this time. “Now I am starting to explore other materials like animation and editing videos that I have been documenting for the past 20 years and polishing my profile digitally because I am in the digital space now.”