The COVID-19 War in Ceramic Arts: Navigating Aesthetic and Symbolic Expressions

Ponimin, Department of Arts and Design, Faculty of Letters, State University of Malang

Guntur, Department of Arts and Design, Faculty of Letters, State University of Malang

The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is a problem that has brought fear to people all over the world because of the numerous deaths it has caused (Kawashima et al. [2020]; Lagier et al. [2020]). This natural phenomenon of a respiratory health problem has devastated almost all sectors of human life, including the economy (Hu [2020]), politics (Kuzemko et al. [2020]), trade (Kurbucz [2020]), social community (Chakraborty, Maity [2020]), and art and culture (Huynh [2020]). In the field of creative art, COVID-19 has sparked the imagination of artists to develop ideas that are processed to become works of art that can be presented to the public (Mayeur et al. [2020]). The imagination that has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an overflow of artistic emotions. These emotions are expressed spontaneously in forms and techniques that are rich in the art of the artist’s particular field, in different styles of expression (Zheng et al. [2019]: 238–249).

Some artists are driven by the concern, anxiety, or compassion (Miller, Dumford [2015]: 168–182) that has arisen during lockdown, or as a result of the stay-at-home policies implemented by governments in different countries. These lockdown policies have led to diverse community behavior, with some people following the rules and other refusing to comply, which in turn has caused disputes between officials and members of the community (Atalan [2020]: 38–42). The COV-ID-19 phenomenon has encouraged and inspired many artists to express their creativity in works of art with themes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. They observe and appreciate this phenomenon, and are motivated by the idea of channeling their artistic expression, either spontaneously or deliberately, into works based on the theme of COVID-19 (Heyang, Martin [2020]: 1–15).

The COVID-19 pandemic has also encouraged artists to work using various media, with different forms of expression and styles that characterize individuals or groups (Oztop, Katsikopou-los, Gummerum [2018]: 266–275). These forms of artistic expression include dance, music, painting, sculpture, mural painting, and even the media of ceramic craft. The results of this study indicate that artists in many countries have been affected by the phenomenon of COVID-19, and subsequently expressed their ideas in works of art with various forms, techniques and styles. Many fine artists have continued to use two-dimension-al media, such as painting, drawing, and digital images, expressing themselves spontaneously through these media (van Tonder [2015]: 221–238) but few have chosen to use ceramic as a form of expression of this phenomenon.

This research is an attempt to appreciate and reveal the phenomenon of the COVID-19 pandemic through various different ways and forms of ceramic art (Runco, Acar [2012]: 66–75). In general, ceramic is used to create functional works of art such as ceramic containers, which are shaped using a flashlight rotating technique. Some ceramists have tried to develop this technique further but their work is generally still limited to decorative forms of cylindrical pots, and although some artists have already tried to explore the idea of creating ceramic figurines, none of them have arranged these figures in the form of a ceramic installation artwork. What makes this study different from previous creative research is the theme of COVID-19 as the idea for creating a 3-dimensional ceramic installation artwork, with the specific theme of a “COVID-19 Battle Story”.

This work is in the form of a set of imaginative ceramic figures that express the story of a battle between the king of COVID-19 and his troops and Lord Krishna. The choice of the Krishna’s character as the opponent of the COVID-19 match in this work is relevant to the puppet stories that developed in Java. The COVID-19 pandemic in this case is interpreted as a Kurusetra battlefield, the Baratayuda War between the Kauravas and the Pandavas. In this case, COVID-19 is a symbol of ugliness (Kurawa) and Lord Krishna as a symbol of hero or kindness (Pendawa). As depicted in the story of Krena Duta, that finally Krishna can win the Baratayuda war. The figures were formed manually using a pinching technique (direct hand massage) and also fired in the traditional way. In terms of the technical aspects of cultivation and visual form, this work retains an element of local culture. This is evident in the various imaginative forms of the figures in the story of the battle between COVID-19 and Lord Krishna, which are based on and developed from traditional Indonesian art. Each shape has visual elements that show the individual characteristics of the figure, whether in the ornaments attached to the particular shape or other icons that convey a message of the positive or negative values associated with the imaginary character (Lluveras-Tenorio et al. [2018]: 213–221). Another aspect that makes this work differ-ent from the previous ceramic artwork is the value of the social message contained in the work, namely the value of positive hope that is conveyed through the theme of the work. The work portrays a fight between positive and negative values, expressed in the form of a ceramic installation which tells the story of a battle between COVID-19 troops and Lord Krishna (Mohadab, Bouikhalene, Safi [2020]).

Through the creation of this artwork, the researchers promote a theme related to the events that are currently trending and being experienced by the entire global community, namely the COVID-19 pandemic, presented through the visual creation of a set of imaginative ceramic figures. The creative process involved a number of stages which resulted in a product with a unique form, unique technique, and unique content about the social message that the researcher wished to convey. The installation, packaged in the form of a ceramic artwork, uses the power of the message it contains, together with its local visual elements, as a choice of expression. Its local elements include local materials, and manual techniques and forms that com-bine elements of local culture, but are packaged in the form of a contemporary artwork.


Read Full Text:



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store