Artist Elise Engler set herself a task five years ago: to illustrate the first headline she heard on her bedside radio every morning. The idea was to create a pictorial record of one year of listening to the news. Then 2020 happened. Was there ever such a year? Headlines about the death of Kobe Bryant and Donald Trump's impeachment began to give way to news of a mysterious virus in China, and Engler's pages were quickly filled with the march of COVID-19: schools closing their doors, hospitals overflowing, graveyards full to capacity. Day by day, Engler drew every shocking turn of the year: the result is a visual record of an unprecedented time.
Engler pairs vibrant images with handwritten text in the dynamic paintings that fill this complexly engrossing visual plague diary ... Engler adeptly shifts point-of-view and scale, and expressive portraits abound ... Engler’s unique and moving chronicle-in-paintings captures, with a global perspective, the year’s fears and sorrows, outrages and struggles, encapsulating a profound amount of information, reminding us of how crucial journalism is and affirming life’s intricate interconnections.
A stunning visual chronicle ... These evocative works, accompanied by brief notes summarizing the day’s news, lead readers through the monumental, mundane, and transitory events ... In a blunt style that captures the urgency and confusion of that year, Engler’s paintings offer an extraordinarily haunting time capsule of an era readers soon won’t forget.
Throughout, Engler combines the sharp eye of an editorial caricaturist with the vibrant color of a portraitist, and the energy of the artwork underscores the sense of urgency in the day's news. The accompanying text has a matter-of-fact tone that belies the powerful underlying sense that so much has gone seriously awry ... A dynamic artistic rendering of chaos survived—at least so far.