Goa Covid

Published By: 
The Navhind Times
Dated On: 
18th April 2020
Goa Covid

Goa, like the rest of the world, has witnessed its own share of struggles, anxieties, and pain during the on-going coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, there have been tales of unity, of courage, and of hope that have also unravelled. And international contemporary artist Hesham Malik has set about documenting some of the many experiences of Goans during the times of COVID-19, and these will now be on exhibit from April 18 onwards on the Carpe Diem Art Gallery website.

“I had been planning on doing something virtual during this lockdown period, but I hadn’t thought of this, in this way. However, during our conversation, Malik mentioned this idea, as he is working on similar shows in New York, London, Berlin, Prague, etc,”  says owner, carpe Diem Art Gallery, Majorda, Daegal Godinho. Interestingly the Goa show will be Malik’s fist show to go live. And the artist, who has his roots in Goa created his abstract artworks based on stories he received from Goans in various fields like doctors, volunteers, teachers, etc. The picking process was done by Godinho, who worked on getting a group of people who would be willing to participate and who would lend different angles to the lockdown situation in the state. Malik framed the questions that would be asked and took it forward from there on. In total now around 16-18 works will be on display as part of the virtual art show.

“Although we have had some of our exhibitions on the website in the past, the difference this time is that there is no physical show, only virtual. The focus is not on the sale of the artworks but on capturing what this time has been like from a local and sociological kind of perspective,” says Godinho, who believes that art has an important role to play during these anxiety-ridden times. “Art is much more than just an investment. It has a very therapeutic element to it. People connect with it, make sense of it, and it is also a way to get away from real life,” he says. Besides this, he adds, it is also a way of capturing and documenting history. “Art has always been what makes cultures rich,” he says. Godinho further believes that going forward, the on line element will and must continue to be explored further for art to reach the audience.

While there is no formal closing date set for the ‘GOA COVID’ exhibition, Godinho hints that it will remain open as long as the lockdown is in place or until it is possible to have a physical show at the gallery.

Q. What type of paintings have you worked on for this exhibition?
I have worked on abstract figurative which is the style I usually use. The big difference would be the stories. Generally, the stories are based on topics which I select and then make a collection of art around it. For this show, however, it is the stories of locals around Goa which formed the art

Q. You asked the subjects of your works for a colour. Could you elaborate more about this?
The participants narrated their personal experience and how they see the current situation around. The colour supports their story and tells us more about how they see today or tomorrow. Their story is imprinted within the figures or on the figures in the painting. So, one would have to look deeper within the figures to experience the abstract version of their story. The colour they selected is displayed as a background which makes it equally important.

Q. You are doing similar shows in other places too. Could you tell us more about how the experience and stories differed?
The situation we all are facing is universal. However, the impact on people and people’s behaviour is surely different. The biggest difference I believe is the patience level, respect towards guidelines, behavioural patterns towards animals and above all towards each other. In Berlin, I came ass multiple stories where senior citizens were grouping together to help other seniors, in Seoul, the people followed guideline precisely, be it social distancing or the hygienic part. This mostly led to a positive impact. The stories in Seoul also show how their government had a plan which did not lead to any panic. In New York, the stories have been very dramatic and are about the lack of government body support. At the same time, the community has come together to have a greater impact on the ones in needs. Stories from New South Wales, Victoria, etc. have shown the frustration towards the impatience of people, supplies, etc. Stories from around Italy have shown a growing number of people believe that there is the hand of god and angels in the current situation. Around Europe, there are many people, especially seniors who experienced and survived the world war. They have thoughtful stories and compare how little people needed in those days and how they survived. They believe that the current humankind should be ashamed for giving food the ultimate importance, and for the governments around many cities for failing to realise the importance of agriculture and basic hygiene.

Q. Have you done previous shows here In Goa?
Yes, having Goan roots (Goa is my mother’s birthplace, and my grandparents lived in Margao), I always try my best to be a part of the Goan art community. It is not easy but places like Carpe Diem Art Gallery have been a big support. However, it is the first time as an artist that I have interacted with people living all around Goa extensively and realised how we all in Goa have truly come out to build a strong support not just to seniors, underprivileged, and animals, but also towards migrant workers. Above all, we all realised that nurses and volunteers do exist and that they and doctors and journalists deserve respect and need much more support from our government bodies and communities. Sadly, such things, we humans realise only during the time of crisis.

Q. What are the challenges and benefits of virtual art exhibitions?
Firstly, it is our very first virtual show so yes it has been extremely challenging to formulate the whole show for the Carpe Diem team. Secondly, it has been very challenging to convince people during these times to participate in documenting the virtual show, at the same time to enjoy art virtually.

Art is a supporting agent when it comes to people at such times. Art is not always about colours. During such times art, music, stories, etc. fill in the gaps, provide hope, strength. Everyone is experiencing this lockdown; it has been very difficult to form an art exhibit, especially if it is documenting real people. However, the credit for this show goes to the team of Carpe Diem and every small person who played a connecting role towards bringing the stories to life. There is one benefit - this documentary art will connect to the people around Goa, and around different places. The struggles, the love, the strength, the victory, the sadness, everything from these stories will connect us to one other. The benefit of knowing we are out there, and we are together has connected all of us to know we all are one.

Q. Your thoughts on how art can help us cope in these anxious times of a pandemic.
There are many artists around Goa, around the world. We all have a common motive, to provide people with art and especially during such times to cope with anxiety. Art comes in different forms, different colours, etc. Every art piece has a different impact on the human mind and soul Art surely can even upset people and offend people. However, during anxious times of a pandemic – art is a tool providing support, information, hope, etc.