Moved by the effects of the global pandemic that strongly affected his homeland taking over 50,000 lives so far, Pejac recently completed a series of works as a tribute to the people on the frontline of this ongoing battle. Created at the University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla in his hometown Santander, the three intervention, Strength, are addressing three different aspects of the current crisis and proposes the ways we could respond to them. "The idea of the Strength project arises as a gesture of gratitude to the health workers of Valdecilla, for their work in general and during this Covid crisis in particular," the artist explained what urged him to embark on such a project. "Offering them what I do best, which is painting.”

Social Distancingis a trompe l'oeil intervention that creates an illusion of a deep gaping crevice on a rigid surface of a cement wall. Made from countless human silhouettes that are trying to escape it, the artist wanted to represent the wound that this pandemic has left and made it as a tribute to health workers for their respect and solidarity towards the victims. While the image serves as a metaphor for the damage done by the pandemic, it also literally proposes Social Distancing as a way to fix them. In between the large crowd, the artist included scenes of reunion, empathy, care, and love, suggesting a door to a better, hopeful future.

Overcoming the second piece from the series which was realized with on-hand help by young oncology patients. Depicting a child recreating Van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Cypresses with his hands, the piece is somewhat a take on Pejac’s work he created in Norway in 2015, showing a boy recreating Munch’s Scream with his toy cars. In the piece, a child is propped on the wheelchair, able to paint higher than the rest. “This is something that we, as a society could do— take this crisis and use it to propel us forward,” the artist suggests.

Caresses the final piece that poetically describes the new dynamics of the relationship between the patients and the health workers imposed by the COVID virus. While physically standing distant and only looking at each other as they are passing by, their shadows are depicting the need and wish to return to physical contact. Pejac also added a sense of serenity and beauty by turning their shadows into a colorful and peaceful pond with water lilies, paying homage to one of his favorite painters, Monet, along the way. —Sasha Bogojev