How the pandemic has fuelled creativity: Sanjana Shah

Despite the current economic conditions, artists, whose only bread and butter is their art, have stuck to their choice of profession with invigorated passion writes Sanjana Shah, Creative Director, Tao Art Gallery.


There is no telling how a particular society will deal with a pandemic. Historically, different time periods and contexts have yielded a variety of responses taking into consideration the scale and extent of the calamity. 

However, there is one response that is surprisingly universal for all eras, cultures and societies that have suffered through a human crisis like this, and that is the outburst of creative expression. Creative expression in my belief is a very fundamental human instinct that is born out of the need to connect and convey. Social beings as we are, it is our way of making sense of the world and our individual place in it! This pandemic, like all pandemics before, has rendered us isolated and helpless. And like earlier precedents, the only way to find solace and sanity for most people has been to interact with and engage in art. For example, the emergence of many iconic movements like the radically intellectual Dadaism and the minimalist and functional Bauhaus aesthetic, were testament to the creative waves of change brought about by the 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic. Today, we find ourselves at the brink of a similar wave of change. 

So what do I mean by art? The Arts encompass anything that uses imagination and skill to produce objects and experiences. Films, books, painting, dance, music, theatre: anything that can be used to transport a person, even if that is virtually, to a place elsewhere, is art. This experience is invaluable especially in today’s world. A world that was up until March 2020, more globalized and fast-paced than ever before, but is now locked down in continuing fear and uncertainty. One could go on about this disheartening state of affairs, but what I choose to focus on instead is the necessary benefits that this period of pause has brought to us. This pause, incessant as it may seem, has in fact been instrumental in giving perspective. Perspectives on our life, on the world, on the subtle ideas of meaning and existence…leading to a deeper exploration that channelizes creativity! Despite being shut in our homes, our mind is more open and inquisitive than it has ever perhaps been before. Digital content is being voraciously consumed, from virtual tours of revered museums and free online courses at prestigious universities to a view into Nasa’s video gallery; we are getting exclusive glimpses into things we scarcely could access before. 

Creators from all fields have worked the most from home. The isolation has brought with it inspiration! And the lack of distractions from superficial consumerism culture has allowed for the further fuelling of creativity. Many artists pan India have expressed a range of emotions through their art over these past few months. Dhruvi Acharya’s series ‘Painting in the time of Corona’ explored her existential angst as the lockdown progressed with no end in sight. Ahmedabad based Vipul Prajapati ran out of painting material and substituted canvas with boards and other scraps of paper he could find around his house in order to continue. He now has a body of over 150 works created in this time, almost double of the usual output. The creative fraternity has also come up with innovative ideas to help struggling artists. Despite the current economic conditions, artists, whose only bread and butter is their art, have stuck to their choice of profession with invigorated passion. In order to commemorate such dedication and discipline the art world has stood up in unity through initiatives like the Art Chain India movement and the Carpe Art Supports platform. 

With such a strong trend of positivity, it seems that Covid-19 has triggered solidarity amongst people from all creative fields, musicians are making more tunes, writers are documenting their memoirs, entrepreneurs are coming up with more ideas relevant to this new normal. The resilience shown is a testament to the human spirit that perseveres, and creativity is the embodiment of that spirit. These times are tough, but these are also times that will never be forgotten, that will remain in our minds like a bubble, frozen, a blank canvas that had been given to us to make what we could out of. The art created, the stories woven, the narratives built and the ideas established will remain with us forever! 

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creativity artists Tao Art Gallery Sanjana Shah

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