Immersing the Self in art during Isolation

“And we must pass through the solitude and difficulty isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance and sing our sorrowful song…” these lines by the great Chilean poet Neruda is testimony for the immense power of poetry to rekindle hope and positivity during difficult times in human life. Along the same lines, Art and the human condition can be recognized as two inextricably bonded mutual concepts that have shared a deep soulful relationship over the span of human history. Thus art for people over ages has been the spokesperson to vent their multitude of ranging universal emotions. At the same time art serves as a looking glass to explore the mosaic of life and its many complexities in dynamic vantage points. Especially during a time when the normal rhythm of life is interrupted due to the COVID 19 pandemic and our lives are bordering on isolation and despair, art has become a huge catalyst in cultivating hope and reassurance. During the social and individual isolation that we have had to undergo due to the viral attack art has offered us consolation and helped us in maintaining the physical and psychological equilibrium of life. At present art has given us a second chance to halt the rat race of our modern life style and contemplate on the fragility of human life shelved by our mindless worldly existence. In conversation with ARTRA Dillai Joseph, a painter and environmentalist and Asela Perera an emrging musician generously shared their thoughts and insights on how art provoked their imagination and creativity in a positive manner for the benefit of the people struggling due to the pandemic.

Dillai Joseph, a visual artist by passion, an advertiser by profession and an inspirational environmentalist previously featured on ARTRA March 2020 E52 Synchronizing Art & Nature has produced many paintings of remarkable artistry inspired by humans in isolation with nature. In conversation with ARTRA, Dillai expressed that “When in isolation there are many emotions that fill you. Loneliness, fear, boredom, Sadness etc. Therefore one needs a method of expressing themselves. If you are living alone chances are that you will feel all these emotions much more. Therefore, the role of art can be to transport oneself into a world and forget the negative emotions that surround you. It also is a medium that makes you spend time trying to figure out the message and provoke thought. It becomes a distraction of the bleak reality”. Viewing on the monotony of the domestic confinement during the quarantine, Dillai further mentioned that art is a vehicle of positivity which keeps the negative feelings at bay while helping let go of burdensome feelings in our minds. She highlighted the fact that like the world is in the slow process of healing this is an opportunity one could use to be mindful and heal from within taking a break from the maddening rush of the world. This according to her opinion, is the best way to cope up with the global and individual anxiety and manage stress effectively during crisis times. Expressing on painting, her strongest passion in life, Dillai marked that art; especially painting can be of therapeutic value as the artist gets the opportunity to dwell inside the artistic universe of the painting providing a sense of productivity and fulfilment while keeping the mind preoccupied. As a nature lover, Dillai defines the pandemic a „wakeup call‟ of nature to remind human beings its control over them. For her this break has provided an opportunity to concentrate more on her paintings. Working on her upcoming collection „Making Love to Nature‟, isolation has ideally paved way to think and explore ideas peacefully. Additionally, viewing on communication with others during social distancing, Dillai interestingly observes how difficult times like this can change people‟s outlook on life allowing them to take a close look at it under a different light. Commenting on being in touch with the social world, she further stated that “Communication helps you to provoke thought and also inspire and get inspired by what each other does. Since social media and digital avenues are present, you can never feel completely alone. There are opportunities to discuss. Share thought. Art can also leave a foot print for the future even when you are dead and gone to show a period of time on earth that existed in this manner”. However the quarantine for Dillai has brought back the memories of the initial days of her motherhood where she mentioned her deep longing for escaping stress. Thereby it makes clear that human beings are enmeshed in a cycle of connection and disconnection with the society where art has a possibility of acting like an intermediary medium. Finally commenting on her work, Dillai says that always championing and celebrating nature, she has dealt with similar themes before in her collections „Bodyscapes‟ and „Soulscapes‟ where she has featured women in isolation with nature.

Asela Perera is an artist in the field of music beginning to gain recognition for his unique style and genre of Music who was also previously featured on ARTRA 2020 March E52 In harmony with thy self and ARTRA 2018 December-January E39 Emerging Artists Best of 2018. Being sensitive to the plight of people due to the pandemic and the social disorientation, Asela stated that he saw how art has been there for people in many times during these troubled times. Commenting on the significance of art during the quarantine, Asela views that “ Art will always be a piece of the puzzle that is humanity's existence, but it is even more telling at a time of isolation that Art can invoke various emotions and play different roles in people‟s lives. From keeping us company during solitary days to motivating individuals to pick themselves up and make the best of the situation to even acting as a therapeutic medium to deal with anxiety, uncertainty and grief, Art has played an underrated role in keeping us sane”. According to his observation, the social distancing and the solitary confinement due to the Viral attack has ironically brought people together than ever during crucial times like this reviving hope on humanity. Further, Asela mentioned that the period of quarantine had triggered reflection on the state of the world and his disposition as an artist and a human being which had sawn the seeds of some novel art work that he is currently in the process of producing. Confessing to ARTRA, he also stated that the pause‟ from the rat race of life was a moment of enlightenment which left space to ruminate on the nature of life and look at it adopting a distanced angle. Asela also expressed an insightful idea on the complexity of the modern life which is much more simplified under the current circumstances and pointed out the unnecessary efforts and preoccupations of people which has compelled them “to make the best of the situation and attempt to chase their joy in new ways”. With a vision to invest himself meaningfully in the social media platforms, he motivates people by putting on a song a day on Instagram whether a cover or an original, to serve as an escape for people should they need it. As Asela voices “It was also a blissful way to keep my feet on the ground and stay sane during a period of isolation”. Commenting on the importance of connecting with people during social distancing, Asela mentioned that by posting songs online he and his fellow musicians strive to spread a positive and encouraging message to people confined in homes by bringing them live sessions of music and conversation. It was evident that their actions were helping people regain a sense of community and share a common ground enabling them to connect through music. Accordingly, some of his work published online including Design One more time with feeling Gold and Courage aim at providing meaningful entertainment and reviving public hope and strength to battle with the current struggle of life.


11th April, 2020 Visual Art | Paintings