vika fifita – covid colour

vika fifita, 201 days, acrylic and ink on canvas, 106 x 81cm.

There’s no mistaking the bright abstracts of Vika Fifita that depict day-to-day life. Now, a small selection of her new paintings has just been unveiled at Handmark Gallery.

Unwittingly stuck in Melbourne during the city’s seemingly endless COVID lockdowns, Vika turned to painting as a means of survival. Trapped alone in her studio apartment, art gave Vika an outlet to express feelings of loneliness and despair. One of the most powerful works is a self-portrait which, according to Vika depicts “the mental health impacts of lockdown.” In this “big bright orange painting” she depicts herself with hollow eyes, while trademark text warns her not to “overthink.”

But these new paintings also hint at better times ahead. In a rare two weeks of freedom between lockdowns, Vika expresses unbridled joy at being able to celebrate with friends in Ghost of Birthdays Past. Ordinary things like birthday cake and music – even an Uber ride – are glorified and looked forward to with joyful abandon once life returns to normal. While Vika’s six new works burst onto the canvas with bright colours and pastels, her palette is more limited than usual. Purple and green dominate, and this has as much to do with practicalities as emotional representation: “The simple fact of the matter is, that during lockdown in Melbourne with all the shops shut it was almost impossible to get new paints. Yet another disruption caused by life in lockdown.”