© Wael Darwish, Virus, 2020, Graphite on paper, 100 x 420 cm
How has this pandemic affected you and your creative output? How are you adapting to the new realities?
In general, I think artists are already used to isolation in practising their artistic creativity. However, what makes it different now is that optional isolation turns into compulsory isolation. And the human psyche is not accustomed to practising creativity under the pressure of fear of the unknown and of something that is invisible. This sense of compulsory isolation also constitutes a kind of perpetual struggle for survival, and it occurs continuously throughout life, between good and evil, the unknown and the known, and between the visible and the unseen - and ultimately the control over who can force life to continue. Perhaps this characteristic of artistic creativity is what makes us as artists able to adapt to the current conditions brought to us by this coronavirus.
Please share any insights you have learned from this “lockdown/self-isolation”? Also, is there a special role you feel artists can play in response to the pandemic?
I usually address psychologically-related issues in my art…in what constitutes a kind of “visual psychological analysis” on various topics – such as this compulsory isolation. However, this was not my own reality. Now that I am living this compulsory isolation, I am drawing and painting from inside the experience and not from outside. In general, I see that the visual artist plays an important role in recording all that is happening now – providing a visual history that records this crisis. While our actual movement is restricted, I see that creativity has wings and cannot be restricted.
© Wael Darwish, 2020
How do you think this will affect artists, the art world and how people interact with art? How do you feel this crisis might reshape our societies in general?
The very nature of the work of artists is dealing with the visual, the visible. Now we are all having to deal with the invisible and the unknown. And as this coronavirus crisis is something that the majority of people are experiencing, more than anything, I think this calls for an act of solidarity and a new coming together in a deeper way than what we had before this pandemic. This whole experience has shed light on many things in our world, and I believe we need to take advantage of this experience, as it can lead our world in more positive directions in the future. It is likely that the lessons we learn from this experience will be the most important lessons our world can learn.
Wael Darwish was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1975. He holds a PhD in Contemporary Painting Philosophy and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the Faculty of Art at Helwan University in Egypt. As a multidisciplinary artist, he uses painting, drawing, mixed materials, video, digital and installation art to communicate his observations on life, specifically focusing on the political and social change in his own country. He has participated in many solo and group regional and international exhibitions and cultural events, such as in the 55th Venice Biennale, and been auctioned by Christie's. His work is held in numerous collections in Europe and the Middle East.