Artists in Bosnia are making the most out of social isolation and the restrictions put in place by the government to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, but sales and inspiration have been impacted.
There are 1585 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 63 deaths, as of early Tuesday afternoon.
In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the ban on public gatherings and the operation of non-essential businesses and cultural venues including art gallerieswas announced on March 17 by Fahrudin Solak of FUCZ, in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Alen Grbic, a Sarajevo-based fine artist who runs Gallery Grbic in the capital, told the Sarajevo Times that the restrictions have resulted in heightened creativity for him.
“Due to the current situation I have a lot more time,” he said, “and when you have more time, you can think of new ideas, and the creativity alone comes to a higher level.
“I find that in this period I created many quality pictures that are distinguished in their compositions and detail,” Mr Grbic said.
Danira from Tuzla, who draws portraits on Instagram and has been seizing the opportunity to experiment with new techniques and styles during social isolation, said the restrictions from the pandemic are benefitting her creative work.
“I have never been so active and creative like in this time of isolation,” Danira told the Sarajevo Times.
“Because we are in this lockdown, and not allowed to go out so often, we are forced to be creative in isolation, which is a good thing,” she added.
The portrait artist said that her artistic skills have been markedly enhanced due to the pandemic.
“I improved so much, because I have more time, to sit down and get my emotions, feelings on paper,” she said.
“It’s kinda spiritual, and relaxing, like a therapy, if you will.”
Lejla Bajramovic, an artist who paints on ceramics and glass in Zenica, said that social isolation has allowed her to focus on her art in ways she had not before.
“Now I have much more time to spend on smaller projects that I neglected and postponed over the past few years,” she told the Sarajevo Times.
While there have been positive consequences of social isolation on their creativity and practice, the artists told the Sarajevo Times there have also been various downsides.
Ms. Bajramovic said that because being paid for art is already a challenge for artists in normal circumstances, the pandemic has exacerbated this issue.
“Usually artists have a hard time selling their products,” she said, explaining, “that’s because they are not essential for living and surviving.
“In times like this when people are not sure what the future brings, I found it almost impossible to sell art.”
Ms. Bajramovic said she has been additionally impacted by the pandemic in relation to her teaching of art.
“Due to the current situation most of my projects for opening a ceramic workshop are postponed, and all of my classes with my dear students are cancelled for the time being,” she stated.
Despite these adversities, Ms. Bajramovic remains thankful and positive.
“These are struggling times for all of us and I’m grateful for my and my family’s health,” she said.
Fine artist Alen Grbic said that COVID-19 was impacting his ability to purchase art supplies.
“The bad thing is that a shortage of equipment can occur which can’t be bought, because specific shops that sell art supplies aren’t working,” he said.
Mr Grbic told the Sarajevo Times that although as an artist he is used to working in solitude, the pandemic has impaired his ability to use the outdoors as inspiration for his art.
“Painters who professionally paint more or less are accustomed to autonomous work, and are more isolated because of this line of work.
“But at any rate, the negative effect is that you can’t go to a park or in nature,” he said.
Portrait artist Danira, also said her artistic inspiration was being hindered by the restrictions.
“I get inspired by emotions and other people, nature and happenings around me.
“Now I’m kinda stuck because of this lockdown… the only emotions and feelings I deal with right now are my own.”
The coronavirus has killed more than 124,500 people in Europe, and over 212,000 worldwide.
Written by Miya Yamanouchi for the Sarajevo Times