Finding Certainty and Self in COVID
The pandemic has changed much of what we took for granted. It has corroded the familiar and left many of us with uncertainty and doubt. I have seen the way my family and friends have handled the isolation, the loss of freedoms, and their vulnerability. I have witnessed deep introspection about our sense of self and our fundamental human value.
Without a job, and in unfamiliar territory, this part-time artist looked at himself closely and wondered, “who am I and what is my value?” In the mornings I trawled the internet, looking for jobs. I “worked” my professional networks. I studied “interview techniques” and “personal branding strategies.” I “ramped up” my LinkedIn profile. And I received more rejections than I care to think about.
In the afternoons, I stood in front of a blank canvas, the white void in front of me mocking me in my dejection. But I would paint. Sometimes with anger, sometimes with fear, and frequently with uncertainty and doubt. Eventually, with time and growing acceptance, I surrendered to the process of purely applying paint to canvas in strong totally spontaneous marks. Self-expression. It became an act of comfort. It was a powerful act of purpose. It was an act of searching—for a stronger sense of place and self, probably as most human beings have been doing for the past twelve months.
This did not always result in good paintings. But it did result in hope. And it continues to give me hope. Not that the pandemic will miraculously vanish and everything will suddenly go back to normal, but that we all might find a way to be kinder, more sensitive, and more appreciative of ourselves and others. And that we might place a renewed value on ourselves and our fellow human beings come what may. This is what the act of painting has become for me. My abstract paintings are works of self-expression, contemplation and reflection. I hope that viewers also will be able look at these works and pause to reflect and contemplate—on themselves and our collective humanity.
Copyright © 2021 Simon Grant
Simon Grant is a Sydney-based artist who has a love of the Australian landscape, the sea and sailing, and abstract expression. Grant’s passion for painting was initially fueled by the great Australian landscape painters—Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, and Fred Williams. More recently, he has been driven to explore and express himself in abstract painting, the inspiration and influence coming from a wide range of sources, but particularly the Korean Dansaekwha movement. Grant is deeply drawn to the Korean aesthetic. He also paints sailing seascapes, a theme borne from a youth spent by the sea.