On March 13, 2020, I was looking forward to a fun final March break before I entered university. Instead, in a span of mere weeks, the world became one we never imagined: one of face masks, people fighting over toilet paper, and excessive hoarding of non-perishable foods.
Grocery stores looked like those in World War Z.
On social media, people complained about being locked away from friends and fun activities. For most, death and loneliness plagued this new reality.
Social isolation was important to limit the spread of the virus — but in the midst of this, loneliness distorted our minds, deprived us from affection, and left us feeling anxious for months.
Below are three acrylic paintings I created during the lockdowns.
I created this painting while listening to the song “Strange Weather” by Anna Calvi and David Byrne.
These were the days that, quite literally, felt strange. They felt foreign and unknown, like they shouldn’t be happening. So, I attempted to show what “normal” things such as public places and hanging out with friends started to look like.
My focus was separating the figure of the man from the outside, negative space. I did this by giving these two areas different colour schemes. One is warm and vibrant, and the other is cool and radiant. The entire painting is textured because I used palette knives to layer paint and glazed the painting with duo chrome glaze. It makes the painting radiate different colours from each side.
Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature and film have glamorized the “end of the world” by showcasing people in the middle of the action being heroic and saving the day. But on the deeper surface of this we have to realize when an event that dismantles society occurs, death, loss, and loneliness become reality. COVID-19 was proof of this, and it still is. Anytime I see memes or TikToks obsessing over movies about a virus outbreak, I don’t see it as an action-packed, entertaining film. Instead, I remember the loneliness and isolation we bore, and the deprivation we all felt.
“She’s Losing It”
The first painting I showed took me weeks to create, which is why I wanted to make something minimalistic and simple for the second one.
The title literally explains how I felt while creating this piece. By this time during lockdown, I felt out of place. It was like my mind and body was shutting down and I was feeling my energy leave my skin.
When viewing the painting from the bottom up, the size of each line is decreasing, representing life as the lockdown continued.
It was my optimism and energy that would get me through my day, but during this time, all of that was disappearing day by day.
This is the last painting I created before the start of this academic year. It is a mix between palette knife texture and soft brush strokes. I continued with the neutral colour palette.
A week before I created this, I met my friends for the first time in months.
These moments were like someone poked holes in my dark bubble and let warm light seep through, which is represented by the light background. The dark shaded line is meant to show that from now, we will live with COVID-19.
We will still need to compromise and follow regulations to protect ourselves and others. To cope with this, we need to find our own methods of self-preservation. Times like these serve as learning lessons and life experiences.
After a catastrophe, whether it is a personal or social one, we should try to differentiate between who we used to be and who we become.
During the lockdowns, creating art became more than just a hobby: it became a coping mechanism — a way out of loneliness, procrastination, and laziness. It became a way to stop wasting time and start using it instead.