On the campus of University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla in Santander, Spain, a trio of interventions by street artist Pejac (previously) simultaneously responds to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and offers potential paths for healing. The new series, titled Strength, is Pejac’s direct response to the 50,000 people who have died from the virus in his home country. “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. Offering them what I do best, which is painting,” the artist says.
In “Social Distancing” (shown below), a horde of people escape from a crevice in the building’s facade. The trompe l’oei artwork is a multi-layered metaphor for the ways the virus has ruptured society and the necessity of community care and compassion. “Caress” features two silhouettes standing six-feet apart, with Monet-style reflections on the ground nearby. The figures, which represent a patient and doctor, stretch their hands toward each other.
Pejac worked in collaboration with young oncology patients to complete the third piece, titled “Overcoming” (shown below), in which a child perched on a wheelchair recreates Van Gogh’s “Wheat Field with Cypresses.” “This is something that we, as a society could do—take this crisis and use it to propel us forward,” he says.