art coronavirus

Does Creativity Love Confusion? Contemporary Art in Times of Coronavirus

“You have to systematically create confusion, it sets creativity free. Everything that is contradictory creates life.” -Salvador Dalí

In a recent chat I was asked if I agreed with Dalí’s observation about confusion and creativity. Because my immediate reference is myself—and I’m in a bit of a creative lull at the moment—my response was not, yes absolutely! However, on further reflection, I certainly find truth in Dali’s words.

One theory on creativity I know to be true is that creativity loves constraint. Give an artist, a chef or an inventor every option and material available, and they will come up with something mediocre. Give them a single set task with very limited materials and they will astound you with their inventiveness.

This must be why so many artists choose to rebel and/or live alternative lifestyles. They are creating constraints in an overly-comfortable society.

In recent months, the COVID-19 lockdown has given society a collective constraint. It’s too soon to say what the scope of the creative outcomes from this mass confusion will be. However, it is safe to say that a massive amount of creativity is already bubbling up to the surface.

Social media moves modern art

Social media has been profoundly affecting creative culture since its inception by democratizing the Art World. Social channels effectively take the power away from the gatekeepers (curators, galleries, museums) and give it back to the people to decide what art they want to see and buy.

Digital experiences

During the Coronavirus lockdown, social media is the most important tool used by artists who are now offering a digitized experience to their audience.

During a live painting session with visual artist @Na Lua, musician Ariel Zutel accompanied her with music on the Handpan. The audience enjoyed an hour of relaxing, live music while watching an artist at work. At the end of the session someone purchased the artwork.

Collective online exhibitions

There is a steady increase in the number of online exhibitions in the large art institutions, as well as small-scale independent exhibitions.

Here at FrikiFish, we launched our first Open Call for The Confinement Chronicle on April 1st. We have received an amazing selection of art submissions from all over the world—Spain, USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Egypt, Pakistan and more. We're sharing the submissions every day on our social media channels and in late May we'll present the final exhibition. If you're an artist wanting to participate, you have until May 8, 2020!

There are plenty of opportunities to share your art right now. Search for open calls during quarantine, such as the Q Gallery on Twitter or visit Art Connect and Curator Space for more opportunities.

Confinement Diaries

Artists are narrating their experiences by sharing on social media. Barcelona artist Aby Mackie shows off her vintage textiles and creative workspace through daily pictures and stories of her confinement struggle. While Alberto Bustos has created a unique Gallery at Home for his ceramic sculptures.

New kinds of art markets

Artists are also finding new ways of selling their art. Since gathering at traditional art markets is currently out of the question, people are finding online solutions for sales as well.

Support Artists Pledge

The Support Artists Pledge is an initiative started by visual artist Matthew Burrows. The concept is a simple one. Artists post images of their work to sell for no more than 200 $/£/€ each (not including shipping.) Anyone can then buy the work. Every time an artists reaches $1000 of sales, they pledge to buy another artist's work for $200.

"Cash flows in through those who sell quickly and across its economy as artists buy artist's work. It’s a horizontal economy, built on the foundations of generosity and mutual support. Together we support one another and build a culture that can sustain all of us. Stay generous, keep posting and spreading the message across your networks by telling all to follow the # and @artistsupportpledge for info and updates."

The pledge now has over 101,000 posts and has generated an estimated £20,000000.00 for artists and makers across the globe.

Live art show

In another initiative, artists Simon Hall and Abi Fantastic are organizing Art Show Live on Facebook at 6pm CET on Wednesday May 6th. In this virtual event, artists, designers and creatives will show and discuss their work with a live, online audience. Each Artist will have 10 minutes to talk and show their work for sale.

Makers Market

In a similar initiative, the Ceramics Congress is being held online this weekend, and on Sunday the 3rd there will be a digital markets where Ceramics Artists can meet with you in a Zoom room and show/talk about their artwork. All sales go directly to the artists.



Workshops and classes

Last but not least, there are new online education opportunities. Many artists are also teachers. Now that classrooms are closed, online learning is now where it's at.

Terra i Pell is a leather and ceramics studio in Barcelona that is now offering all kinds of online classes from painting to leather, ceramics and jewelry.

Art coaches are also changing up their game and teaching artists how to share their work digitally. Brainard Carey is focusing on teaching artists how to show off their work and their studios to curators on Zoom. He also sends out free tips and resources for artists, apart from his paid online courses for artists.

I hope you find all of these initiatives as interesting and inspiring as I do! If you have more that you want to share, please add them in the comments below.

Otherwise, until next time!


Main image: Artwork by Aby Mackie, Na Lua, Alberto Bustos, Pato Cassinoni, Jesse Georges and Rabia Dar.


2 thoughts on “Does Creativity Love Confusion? Contemporary Art in Times of Coronavirus”

  1. Hello!

    We hope you are well and safe in Barcelona.

    Thank you so much for including Ithaca, NY’s The Q Gallery in your article!

    Since we are so small and new, we did not expect such a kind media mention!

    You and your readership are invited to our premier virtual showing on Friday, May 8, 2020.

    We hope you can make it.

    Also, just to let you know we are still doing open calls for:

    An exhibition called “complex” exploring the theme of mental complexity during May, Mental Health Awareness Month on May 11, 2020.
    A show in June that interprets “Pride 2020.”
    Depictions of the outdoors for folks who must stay indoors working title “The Window.”

    We hope folks of all skill levels participate in our programming.

    For example, we are accepting selfies–one masked, the other smiling for our one day show of #covidart celebrating National Smile Power Day, June 15, 2020.

    Dr. Jake Turner & Veronica Haunani Fitzhugh

    “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso

    1. Hello Q Gallery in NY! Thanks for your message — we think the little guys need some attention as well 😉
      Thanks for sharing more information about your open calls. We hope you’re staying safe and well in these crazy times. All the best!

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