Gary Baseman carries a sketchbook with him everywhere. However, last year in March, like the rest of the world, the artist self-isolated at home as the life-altering pandemic hit us.
Transforming everyday observations and experiences into art, Baseman expresses in his long-running visual diary his personal reflections on Covid-19. Drawn between March and August of 2020, these images share the artist’s sense of uncertainty and his preoccupations about the virus and its impact on life. Of particular frustration to Baseman was the former administration’s mishandling and denial of this novel disease, resulting in millions infected and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the United States.
Baseman’s art takes viewers through a journey of the unprecedented events of the year 2020. Just as the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic and Italy imposed a national quarantine, Baseman drew The Caronte Virus. Referencing a drawing he made in Rome in 2015 of Caronte – the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the river Styx, dividing the world of the living from the world of the dead – Baseman imagines the coronavirus as the Caronte Virus, with Hades in quarantine and Caronte unable to transport souls. In Trump’s Covid Easter Egg Hunt, the artist expresses his disbelief and indignation about the then-president’s call for “restarting the economy by Easter,” despite caution from health experts. In Milestone, Baseman memorializes the tragic number of 50,000 deaths in the US due to Covid-19, a number that in months after would multiply several times over.