Art and Artist in Pandemic: Four Notable COVID-19 Precipitated Virtual Art Exhibitions in Nigeria

  • Otonye Bille Ayodele Department of Creative Arts University of Lagos, Nigeria
Keywords: Artist, COVID-19, Lockdown, Nigerian Art, Pandemic, Virtual Art ExhibitionArt and Artists in Pandemic


COVID-19, the code name of the disease caused by a Coronavirus, was first announced in
December 2019 by China and declared a world pandemic in 2020. Among several measures
to curb and eradicate the disease was the enforcement of a lockdown. Lockdown impacted
the socio-cultural and economic lives of people worldwide. The internet became the only
space where everyone connected. Many professionals and entrepreneurs responded by
finding alternative avenues to enable the sustainability and survival of their professions.
Among these that were grossly affected are artists worldwide, who responded to the demands
of the times in different ways. One aspect of art practice that was affected was gallery-based
art exhibitions which led to the emergence of increase in virtual art exhibitions. This paper
documents and reviews four selected outstanding virtual art exhibitions from the numerous
that took place and were precipitated by COVID-19 lockdown. From observation of fifteen
notable exhibitions, four exhibitions were purposively selected for study for this paper. The
parameters for the selection of the four were: the types of technologies used for the
exhibitions such as CUDA-X, Multi-Instance GPU (MIG) and platforms such as EGX
Platform, Virtual GPU, Jetson, GeForce, RTX and NVIDIA Drive; the variety and
geographical spread of the locations of both the participating artists and viewership; the
media used for the execution of the artworks and areas of specialization of the artworks
(painting, sculpture, photography, multi-media and digital); the professional status of the
organisers and curators and artists; only group not solo exhibitions and only exhibitions
originating from Nigeria. Apart from observation, the methodology for the investigation
carried out for this study included interviews with the curators and some of the exhibiting
artists and the critical examination of the artistic components, features, technologies and
platforms. The effects of these virtual exhibitions and their possible impact on contemporary
art in Nigeria were assessed through the participants and viewers data collected from the
organisers and literature search online. The study revealed that the launch of virtual art
exhibitions is a gain for art and artists worldwide, Nigeria inclusive. Such achievements are
in artistic ethics, art education, art practice, patronage, art technology and information. The
data collected on viewership showed that virtual art exhibitions will enlarge the borders of
Nigerian contemporary art and artists internationally by their recognition, increase in
patronage and promotion. The exhibitions also opened extensive explorations into advanced
technologies that are highly beneficial to the development of Nigerian contemporary art. The
direction of the art vis-a-vis forms, styles, genres, media and movements is one aspect to
watch out for in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Author Biography

Otonye Bille Ayodele, Department of Creative Arts University of Lagos, Nigeria

Department of Creative Arts
University of Lagos, Nigeria