Home schooling kids, Zooming the day job, caring for loved ones, keeping in ‘touch’, staying sane: ‘normality’ is suspended, questioned even. There’s a lot of pressure. Don’t be too hard on yourselves… Of course, the real key workers are being recognised as all the people who serve and support others both professionally and in many everyday hitherto invisible ways.
That said, artists, creatives are chipping in with ideas and activities to help keep young and old engaged, amused and challenged. Sharing images, skills and techniques. Post COVID-19 will these times be looked back on as a golden age of caring, sharing show and tell? Will we see a renaissance of homespun art and craft? Who knows?
Lockdown Innovations is a series of short texts sharing and celebrating artists and creatives who have used the constraints of lockdown to spur innovation…
First up is Pejac – #stayarthomepejac – who’s currently sequestered in Madrid. Deploying consummate skill and visual wit together with a profound social and ecological conscience, Pejac makes work that combines the wow factor with a heart-rending inducement to think more, care more and do more about the precarity of the planet and our role in its future.
Another aspect to his work is an ability to use the space and materials at hand. Before lockdown, in addition to his superb studio practice, Pejac has travelled the world making a number of ingenious site specific interventions: Green Puzzle (2019) transforms a bed of moss on stone into a flora jigsaw, reminding us perhaps that a natural world we take for granted could easily fall apart; Fossil (2018) is a trompe l’oeil stencil work whereby a tree appears to emerge from a NY wall, bricks being made from material that once supported growth.
Pejac’s current output characteristically deploys a wry adhocism that utilises, transforms, the means, modes and materials that currently confine us. He also draws cleverly on popular culture and art history. It Can’t Rain All The Time (2020) sees Magritte like bowler hatted figures painted on his apartment window so that they appear to litter the Spanish sky. For Magritte, being neither top hat nor cloth cap, the bowler hat equated with the ‘Everyman’. Here, however, Pejac’s figures are also wearing masks – not the N95 respirators that are in such woefully short supply – but bio-hazard gas masks.
Perhaps the coronavirus and its effect on our communities isn’t just a blip, something just to get through, but a more profound ‘wake up’ call for humankind. Prior ‘normality’ was the problem. It’s time to reconsider, to revisit priorities, to maybe stop making the same mistakes over and over again.