Discovering art post-pandemic need not be a laborious or uninspiring task. From online exhibitions and outdoor fairs, to auditory experiences and graduate showcases, COVID-19 may have dampened the industry's spirits, but it certainly hasn't curbed its tenacious productivity and creativity. Discover how to find art post-lockdown through an exciting range of on and offline art shows, revolutionised gallery spaces, and more.
Find Online Exhibitions
Become a visual globetrotter without lifting your little finger. As our curator Phin Jennings said, while online exhibitions may not be everyone’s cup of chai, “they can be helpful as a way of looking at, learning about and, for some, buying artworks in lieu of physical exhibitions.” Thanks to the digital showroom, we have the liberty of taking our eyes on a visual romp through gallery rooms on the other side of the planet.
Although, of course, there are limitations to online exhibitions, it does at least make international, cross-country, or simply isolated viewings accessible. Likewise, if you detest a crowd regardless of COVID-19, enjoy zooming in on details without having to tirelessly jump to see over someone’s head.
Art on Social Media
Also not to everyone’s taste, but, if you’re looking to purchase from emerging artists, you shouldn’t turn your nose up at taking a good ol’ scroll through the land of social media. Instagram is a hustle-and-bustling hub of up-and-coming artists. It may take a few deep dives into the abyss to find what you’re looking for, but the platform is brimming with beautiful and bounteous works of art.
Not too long ago, success as an artist was largely measured by how many of your artworks were exhibited in galleries. Nowadays, it’s how many followers you’ve got on the gram. Artists-cum-influencers such as the duo behind Velvet Spectrum and pop artist James Lewis, as well as major curators and historians like Nancy Spector, are making waves on the #instagramart scene.
So, next time you pick up your phone, turn it into a cultural excursion. You can use hashtags to filter your search.
Virtual Gallery Tours
Not particularly ground-breaking nor novel, virtual tours have been an option for a short while. The pandemic catapulted them up the algorithm though, so you’re more likely to come across streamed exhibition halls than the real thing. Google Arts & Culture has, for several years, been anthologising virtual tours of museums around the world. With over 500 locations to choose from, you won’t be short on arty digital day trips for a while. The “adventure” quite literally thickens, too; there’s the option to refine your search based on colour or style, connecting you with cross-cultural and cross-decade works.
Outdoor Art Exhibitions
It’s not all about the virtual realm, though. While you might not feel ready to head back to a gallery space, plenty of exhibitions are taking place outdoors. Driven by the COVID pandemic, outdoor art has boomed. Public shows are vital for getting the industry back on track, a fact spurring many London boroughs to invest in alfresco art. Hackney, for example, recently drew up plans for new artists to submit work for a scheme paid for by street artist Stik, known for his socially conscious murals. Expect to see plenty of street-side shows and park exhibitions popping up this summer!
Gallery Spaces & Soft Launches
In the UK, the government’s recent announcement of a £1.57bn support package for cultural organisations is, at least, reassuring. More questionable was perhaps the decision to open IKEA but not the V&A at the beginning of April. By the by, slowly but surely, gallery spaces are preparing to re-open with the necessary COVID measures in place. You can anticipate a quieter and more spacious experience – which doesn’t sound too bad(?) – complete with a range of eagerly awaited shows postponed from 2020. And, a little art therapy could provide a well-deserved antidote to post-lockdown lows.
Attend Online Graduate & Thesis Shows
Another somewhat philanthropic way to soak up some culture and discover the next generation of artists is to participate in digital MFA and BFA thesis shows. Research art schools and find out when their digital thesis shows are taking place. Alternatively, you can follow accounts like the Social Distance Gallery and find out about the latest grad shows.
Art… but without pictures
An auditory alternative for art consumption is listening to art podcasts or audiobooks. Experience art through the power of sound, description and anecdotes, away from the internet and from public spaces; via your ear canals and into your heart. Indeed, lend your ears to shows such as Talk Art – about making art accessible to all, The Great Women Artists Podcast – focusing on iconic and emerging women artists, or Radical Contemporary – offers listeners a hub for creative discourse, art reviews and insights into the Middle East and North African cultural landscape.
Open Your Eyes
And, finally, art can be found all around us. After a period of intense isolation – responsible for the crippling of imaginations and the restraining of artistic inspiration – perhaps what many of us need is to simply rediscover what it means to feel awe. So, goodbye couch and hello world. Get out, explore, and let the new art world unravel before you.