"In self- isolation we really come to terms with the fact that life is fragile and that money and power are not essential if humanity is to survive," Matter of fact, but sensitive, Tony Toscani got right to the point when considering Art In Uncertain Times. "We see clearly how being selfish can make us ignorant towards science and art, the two most essential ingredients of being uniquely human. If human beings are to progress or continue on living, it will be through the perseverance of these two ingredients. Not through the power and private benefit."


As  Covid-19 blazes its trail around the world, and the US getting hit pretty hard, we've shifted our focus towards some stateside artist's with whom we've been in touch. Tony and his partner, Adehla Lee, share a studio and apartment, which I visited in January. Back then we were working on a feature that would introduce his upcoming shows, but those plans have obviously changed significantly.

tony toscani studio4

"I’ve been fascinated by how we unknowingly have been practicing a form of isolation for years, whether it be from distancing ourselves through social media or our own selfishness. Ironically, the coronavirus outbreak has really brought the importance of compassion and social interaction to light." Tony reflects about the way his work connects with the current state of the world. In melancholic visuals, Toscani regularly portrays everyday people in a variety of circumstances insulating themselves from the rest of society at any given point in time. Considering them in the current context,  these "daydreamers", as he calls them, seem to be prophetic.   

Working from their apartment, daily routines have not changed drastically for Toscani and the Korean-born Lee, who is also an artist. "Ever since social distancing started back in the middle of March, I only get the chance to go out about once a week to do grocery shopping," she told us about the way she is experiencing the changes around her. "I often feel scared by how many things have changed for the worse. Many things just seem harder now than before."   In sharing both living and workspace, along with their love for art-making, the couple rhythmically support and bolster each other's practice.

adehla lee studio6

"When I am in my studio working on my drawings and paintings, nothing seems to have changed," Lee says about outside influences changinging her practice. "Even though my studio is in Brooklyn, the craziest place on earth right now with Covid-19, I feel pretty removed from everything going on in the outside world. In fact, I feel as though I can focus on work better than before because I don't have to fulfill any kind of obligations or take part in any social activities. The socially distanced life has actually brought me closer to my own work." 

Contemplating the mental mood of society and the current situation, Toscani suggests, "This outbreak has broken the spell of our conformity and has made our real problems come to light. It is in our isolation that we can clearly see how any power or authority can fail us if it is selfish and unequal. It is now the artist’s duty to create works that use imagination to influence beauty and justice for the betterment of a shared society we call existence."    

Text compiled by Sasha Bogojev