Coronavirus and Art: How Middle East Artists Have Responded to Lockdown

Tim Cornwell, Middle East Eye, May 1, 2020

Artists from the region are no stranger to crisis, the global pandemic inspiring new ways to engage with their art.


“Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.” These words - attributed to Pablo Picasso by a Spanish writer - appeared on the website of an Istanbul art gallery this month, one of dozens around the world forced to close its doors in recent weeks following government efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The words might be of some comfort to artists in the coronavirus lockdown, working alone from homes or studios, with the art market facing the same financial crunch as almost every other industry. Smaller art galleries maybe better placed to exercise “social distancing” rules, but art sales traditionally follow the economy into a downturn.

Artists from around the world have found different responses to the pandemic, the global lockdown that has gone with it, and their own circumstances. Some choose to ignore or escape into their own worlds, some to engage.