Quarantine Drawing Series Records from a Time of Social Distance Hiromi Kurosawa, Chief Curator, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa
What impressions will people have of Quarantine Drawing Series (2020) when they look back on it ten years in the future? If we have won the battle against COVID-19, they may remember past turbulence in a tranquil state of mind. But if not…? Currently each person worldwide is anxiously watching the competition between virus and vaccine.
Oscar Oiwa lives in Manhattan, New York City. It is a rather theatrical place, full of the bustle and flamboyance of the world’s great cities. Life is dreamlike and unrealistic, but reality certainly can be present too. Shops are now closed and streets have lost their energy. Freedom of movement, and the pleasures of meeting people are severely restricted. Energy consumption has plummeted. Travelling has always been a major part of Oscar’s life, but the closing of borders has confined him for extended periods to New York. He even had to give up the daily routine of a trip to his studio in Queens. Instead, Oscar stayed at home, digitally producing Quarantine Drawing Series and publishing it on the Web. Oscar made some twenty monochrome drawings from March to early June, 2020, rendered in the style of a diary. He produced scenes of interiors by a window, or a park, landscapes of Osaka, or of his home country Brazil – which he might otherwise have visited. These are brought together with an accompanying text expressing his honest feelings at the time of composition. It goes without saying that as an artist, Oscar is equipped with an objectivity that allows him to comprehend things rationally and constructively. In this series, his analytical stance is enhanced by personal experience, which raises the work to a paradigmatic level. In this sense, the series is an excellent example of documentary reportage, capturing this special time. Oscar’s highly trained drawing skills and elaborate techniques of spatial composition are fully revealed via simple lines and monochrome palette. Oscar is nothing but positive about this. He states that digital tools are convenient and their only cost is data traffic, so perfect while physical traffic is difficult.
As I look at Quarantine Drawing Series with my opening question in mind, I feel that they reveal the solid hope that humankind will advance towards a brighter future, after winning this battle. Oscar opens doors that have been shut by quarantine, allowing us to emerge into a more substantial space. Regardless of your geographical realities, this series will bring every one of you immediate experiences.