Since the spring of 2020, the ordeal of the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how quickly the state of things can change. Now that the world can finally glimpse a light at the end of this long tunnel, it is not clear that we want to go back to where we were before the pandemic in every regard. Many people have changed their habits and their values in a way that may contribute to a changing view of the world.
For art, the pandemic may be a catalyst that leads us to the brink of a paradigm shift in the way we see art. It’s the dawn of a new era. We don’t yet know what that’s going to look like, but this exhibition is based on four currents that have been discernible in recent years and that may be coming together to create a paradigm shift in art.
The first is the return of the existential dimension. One of art’s distinguishing features, seen over a long period of time, is its ability to capture and consider contemporary events and worldviews based on existential questions. Art gives us perspective on how individuals can relate to and orient themselves within the surrounding world in a broad sense—just as science and philosophy do.
A related current is the universal idea of searching for what unites humanity with everything else in the universe. This can perhaps be understood as a reaction to the world’s reversion toward nationalism in recent years and to the increasing accommodation afforded to special interests.
The universal is often surmised from what we assume we share at present, perhaps as an expression of a visionary ideal. On the other hand, many artists have returned in recent years to more archaic motifs, such as Greek and Roman mythology or other recurring subjects from the history of art. This may be an expression of a desire to capture what has been shared by all of humanity through the ages. This interest in the archaic should not be seen as a reactionary hope to find progress by looking back into the past, but rather as a search for what unites us and is stable over time.
The fourth current is the reclaiming of art’s autonomy—allowing art to be art rather than a subordinate instrument for other agendas.