by Shane Lewis9 August '18
Nostradamus abstract painting an aesthetic of complexity
This oil painting is far more abstract than figurative, to the point where what is obscure to the viewer. The artwork shows the phenomenon of Michel de Nostredame life's work as a seer and writer of Les Propheties.
There are subtle suggestions of the figurative in the stylised hat seen in many portraits of Nostradamus, but overwhelmingly Virtosu plays with the ideas of obscurity, openness and the equivocal in his aesthetic here.
Colors and Tones
Rather than being a portrait of a man or of his work, this abstract picture would seem to be a portrait of the lasting effect of both, as muted colors and tones purvey a general mood of foreboding. Within this mood there is a meticulous gradation of color, with reds climbing into black and browns; blues, greens, and darks all co-existing in equanimity under the saturnine tone.
Yet this contemporary abstract artwork is as much about painting as it is about its subject-matter. Abstraction is liable to provoke questions about the epistemological status of art – how its claims to knowledge of the world can be made, given the disjuncture between the visible world and the mechanisms of the genre. In parallel to this and in view of the subject-matter here, the epistemological status of Nostradamus's 942 surviving quatrains is and has been for centuries hotly disputed. His poetic approach could be considered as equally removed from matter-of-fact prose as Gheorghe Virtosu 's abstraction is from figuration in this work.
Hence we see in Virtosu’s painting a creative 'epitome', or mirroring of the work of the man, by means of the aesthetic's internalization of the operations in that work on the part of the artist.