Ne pas toucher (2019)
In a way, this composition acts almost as one of the vitrailles in the old European gothic churches: a pieta, a begging for merci, an image of damnation or salvation. The format of this work is suited to be included in any church as it is more tall than wide – giving it an almost surreal look. In a strange way, it can also be a reminder of the work of El Greco, with its elongated sanctified characters that reach for the redeeming and benevolent sky for pardon.
The agglomeration of characters, all on the ground like beggars for mercy, is reminding of the stark years of famine and deplorable poverty that has hit the world many times in the past. NE PAS TOUCHER thus becomes a warning sign, a way of holding back the curious from making and repeating the same mistakes of the past – it is a way of avoiding the repeat of history. Minute details in the way the faces of the characters are painted by Dominic Virtosu – like the re-circling of the eyes and the various colour dabs applied with almost gracious parcimony – speak of times of chrisis – times where the human condition is brought to a realisation of its own perniciousness and problematic existence.
The video shows the artist (Dominic Virtosu) starting from a painted drawing of the work. The work in iself was sketched based on a digital montage of fotos that the artist took of himself. A first layer of irony was thus implied, as the artist put himself in the situation of his characters: the artist as a subject of his own perdition.
The digital montage was then projected and became a massive drawing on the canvas. With powerful traits of paint and expressive gestures, Dominic Virtosu captures the essence of his characters and transfigures his persona into a collective unconscious masterwork.
Then, in a brutal gesture, the video shows the artist throwing terpentine on the freshly finished drawing. This causes the paint to thin and drip off the canvas, leaving behind a faded image of what once was. The first symbolic layer is an effacement, a deletion, it speaks of the passing of time and questions it’s own process by the ineffable distructive force that the artist induces in the work.
Each paint dab is either thin or thick, it is a duality of major proportions and creates a vibration onto the entire surface of the canvas. Literally dripping wet paint through all the layers makes them permeable to meaning and purposefulness.
Virtosu’s process starts with the application of a red-orange background and then goes on with drawing the figures on the canvas with dark blue and purple; then, the artist goes back and re-creates the sign „NE PAS TOUCHER” with spray paints and oil colors – thus implying a multiplicity of meaning to the process and inducing a feeling of illegality – like the spray-painter rapidly tagging a building and then running away.
Virtosu’s meticulous care for detail shows in his application of color on the painted surface: cominng back again and again and adding detail after detail, creating accents of color and contrasts makes the canvas vibrate powerfully.
The figures are distinguishable and clearly in distress, allthough we are not able to discern their individual personalities with ease. Their soul seems to be captured by the collective unconscious and their energy remains only as a shadow of what it once was. Therefore, NE PAS TOUCHER remains a work of great depth by Dominic Virtosu – showing the artists’ greatness and versatility in using color, context and great composition to bring symbolism to life in a powerful demonstration of contemporary mastery.
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.