Psychedelic Cactus (2020)
There is undoubtedly no objectivity in this endeavour as the artists’ stated mission is to immerse himself completely into the task of creation. The subject, being a pretext for his artistic expression, entertains within the viewer the notion of duality transposing him/her into a superior sphere of consciousness.
The theme of the Cactus is prevalent in Virtosu’s work and dates back to 2015 and Virtosu’s first visit to the Canary Island of Spain – mainly his stay and exploration period on the island of Tenerife where he has been charmed by the rugged nature and the way green life had found a way to colonize even that piece of inhospitable land.
Similar to a volcanic eruption, Virtosu’s painting exploded into a large palette of juxtaposed colors – reminding somewhat of the Fauvism that had also impressed him during his years of study. Using photography as a starting point, Virtosu’s vibrant imagination creates composition with cacti of the most varied species and transforms their colors to reflect his subjective mood.
„There is no right or wrong answer in this”, the artist claims, „I feel that I need to paint something in a certain way and I do it until I am satisfied with the result. Sometimes it takes a few months to get a result that I am looking for, sometimes it takes me a few days and sometimes, rarely, just a few hours.”
Speaking about his cactus series, Dominic Virtosu puts an accent on the aesthetic aspect of the work: „I am very interested in how a painting looks. I feel like it really needs to look great before I am satisfied with it. With the cacti I am always looking for better ways to apply the paint so that the plants look vivid and the color remains as vibrant as I see it in my head. Often I had to re-think the way I was painting a work WHILE i was painting it, because I had discovered a new way of mixing colors or some other trick that I wanted to use. It’s a learning process that demands attention, patience and dilligence. However, the end-result makes me feel really great.”
With „Psychedelic Cactus” Virtosu pushes his mastery one step further and invents another, new protocol, for applying the paint on the canvas: he first creates a background layer around and behind the plants in order to have a base color to help his eye get oriented as to what nuances to use for the objects in the foreground. In the next stage of the work, the artist endeavours meticulously into rendering each and every detail of the cactus, applying dabs of paint with fine brushes in numerous nuances that he carefully juxtaposes and creates what could be described as an observation painting.
„The more rewarding stage of my painting process is the third stage: here I come back on this layer of color that I had just finished working on and, very carefully and making sure that I constantly clean my brush, I start unifying the colors one to the other slowly. I mix them together ever so gently in order to achieve a smooth transition between hues.”
The end result is a cactus that is both vibrant, from all the tones and hues, AND absolutely smooth in texture.
„I wanted this cactus to reflect the texture of the actual plant, which is smooth and glossy skin that is sometimes interrupted by brutal spikes” says the artist. „I find this contrast between the skin and the spikes to be absolutely astonishing, both visually and aesthetically. I am also interested in this as a metaphor for the human condition: the way we all have spikes that protect us against being hurt – we hold others at bay so that they are not able to gage our imperfections – but, behind that, we all are fragile, beautiful beings, worthy of love.”
Dominic-Petru Virtosu was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1983. He completed his formal artistic education with a License in painting (2006) class of renowned Romanian artist Florin Ciubotaru and a Master’s in 2013 with professor Catalin Balescu at the Bucharest National University of Arts; also attending a semester as an Erasmus exchange student at the prestigious Hochschule fur Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig where he was guided by the style and color of his professor, Annette Schroter.
The artists’ German High-school education proved to be a founding element for his work-ethic and discipline – this led to him continuously developing his artistic practice even through 10 years of employment within the tourism and audio-visual industry of Romania. Works created between 2009-2013, while the artist was employed at the biggest private television conglomerate of Romania, are a strong testimony of this effort: to question his environment and society’s consumerist tendencies in a broader sense.
After 2013, his focus shifted towards integrating the paradox of image representation vs. pure painting – an essential pathway for Virtosu’s development. His style merged the two directions into an organic vivid mix in which color and subject matter are unified and produce an exceptionally powerful image. Each work thus becomes its own unique path and requires its own technical solutions – both plein-air and works of fantasy became unified in style.
Dominic-Petru Virtosu’s French heritage also played a part in creating a strong connection to the cultural and artistic environment of Paris at a young age. His travels to the capital of France for extended periods of time where the most relevant and prestigious museums and exhibitions of the time were readily accessible prompted the artists’ curiosity and stimulated his artistic eye at a young age. His French legacy and fluency in the French language also helped the artist secure a scholarship at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Tourcoing in France where he studied art-teaching in 2017-2018; thereafter being employed as a painting professor at this same university to this present day.