Toilet paper has emerged as an unfortunate but enduring symbol of the current coronavirus crisis.
Early on, images emerged from across the world of people stockpiling toilet rolls, in some instances battling with fellow shoppers to fill their trolleys.
While the psychology of this mass hysteria seemed perplexing to many of us who watched from afar, Farasat Bokhari, a health economist at the University of East Anglia in the UK, suggested the following: “My guess is we want to feel in control and have limited budgets. So we go buy something that is cheap, that we can store easily, and we know at the back of our minds that we are going to use anyway.”
And so toilet paper became an unlikely form of comfort in uncertain times. And will become so again, thanks to a new initiative by the Kinkade Family Foundation.
The foundation, established by the family of American artist Thomas Kinkade after his death in 2012, has partnered with the New Art Dealers Alliance (Nada) to release prints based on a never-before-seen artwork by the American painter.
The work, Untitled (Toilet Paper), was originally painted circa 1978 and was locked away from public view. It will be reproduced in limited edition and open-edition prints and, until the end of the year, 100 per cent of the proceeds from sales will be donated to Nada's fund to support galleries in the United States that have been most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Priced at $750 (Dh2,755), the limited-edition canvas prints will be hand-retouched by the artist’s daughter, Winsor Kinkade, to capture the original brushwork, and then placed in a classic gold frame and delivered with a numbered letter of authenticity. An open-edition print is priced at $150. Also on offer is a 100-piece puzzle reproducing the image.
“With whatever talent and resources I have, I’m trying to bring light to penetrate the darkness many people feel,” Kinkade once said. Dubbed “the painter of light”, Kinkade works covered realistic, pastoral and idyllic subjects, and he found significant success in his lifetime, with some of his original paintings priced at more than $1 million.
Raised in poverty, he gave millions of dollars over his lifetime to disaster relief and other charitable organisations, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and World Vision – so it seems fitting that even in death, he is able to help raise funds during a crisis, with an image that is strangely resonant.