The rhizome and the unity of opposites in Gheorghe Virtosu painting
Artist emotional expression through color
25 August '18
Jehovah abstract painting

by Robert McIntosh

25 August '18

The rhizome and the unity of opposites in Gheorghe Virtosu painting

Artist emotional expression through color

In this article we shall discuss the play between opposites as the central theme to the work of Gheorghe Virtosu. We shall elaborate on the need of each other to exist as the structural concept contained in these opposites.

The opposites are mutually dependent on each other so that the unity is the source of their meaning.

We shall explore in terms of the key notions of color and balance. The intersection of these elements with the opposites of complimentary, disharmonious or contrasting.

A case to suggests that a concept can be embedded in the work itself. A work can remain conceptual and sensual and more so, these oppositions blend into one another.

Rhizome concept

Gheorghe Virtosu 's work is a return to the aesthetic of form and color. It has an embedded rhizome or rhizomatic concept explored by the philosopher's Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari.

The play of opposites is discernible from a number of the formal elements. At the outset, the primary opposites that provide a top-down way of describing or referencing these forms as the relationship between space and non-space.

In Virtosu abstract painting, the contours that intersect the foreground, the background emit both a line of separation and a blended unity. The relationship between the two is not separate. In the sense that there is a 'signifier' and a 'signified' relationship. They are mutually determining but rather as a form of blended opposition.

The blending or the rhizome dimension to this relationship is expressed in the movement of the background. It is an expression taken in itself that defines the boundaries and actions of the figures portrayed but also a movement that is likewise its own singular expression. There is a transfer of energy that happens in the play. The transfer between the gestures and the motion of the figures, but also the backgrounds with strong or bold textural layering.

The Century of duck Copy by artist Gheorghe Virtosu Yasser Arafat abstract painting
The Century of the Duck (2016) Yasser Arafat (2015)

Consistent set of elements

The artist 's abstract paintings have a strong set of elements that are consistent with each other. This speaks to an important critical dimension of the work.

The look at a sequence of his paintings is to potentially engage in a cinematic experience. Single frames blend into one another, subconsciously.

The juxtaposition, along with the similarities between the motion of the figures, their situation within negative and positive space, and the trajectory or direction of the motion are all elements that contribute to understanding how they can be experienced as blended frames.

There is a frame of reference among some of the core themes. The difference and similarities can first be described in terms of the concept of tension. Motion requires resistance. The directional pull of figures is viscerally met by a contour. The contour blends with a force of opposition.

For Virtosu, this is a form or frame that is complemented by an emotional expression through color.

Contrasting hues

The contrasts and juxtapositions reflect both harmonious and disjunctive hues, but there is a balance or consistency. Saying that there is a tension with the use of the color hue rage that can in some ways be large and expressive, and in other instances within the same work, become conflicting and signifying an elevated danger.

In terms of hue, there are warm and cool contrasts with complementary hues like red orange and then, red to violent. In terms of the cool hues, there are the ranges between blue and violet and then, blue with green. In turn, the prevalence and gestures or play between, create the contrasting hues.

For example, the contrasting hues of warm orange against cool blue or conversely, a cool green against a warm red. These contrasts are consistent through the work, but are pronounced as an expression in Jehovah (2016), The Century of the Duck (2016), Yasser Arafat (2016), and especially in Ruqayyah bint Muhammad (2017), Fatimah bint Muhammad (2017), and Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad (2017). Taken together, these latter three paintings can be viewed as a Triptych and among most of his works, these are exemplary of the contrast in color hue. But, only in an immediate way.

Ruqayyah bint Muhammad Fatimah bint Muhammad Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad
Ruqayyah bint Muhammad (2017) Fatimah bint Muhammad (2017) Umm Kulthum bint Muhammad (2017)


Virtosu's other work contains these elements but requires a more positive focused engagement. Or, just a little more meditative time looking. The contrasts in hue further define the contours and boundaries of the space surrounding the figures in Virtosu's work.

In this relation, they express both the motion of the figure and the world that surrounds it, but also the tension and relationship to the figure.

Tension is involved in both, the relationship between the figure and its surrounding that either adheres or resists. Tension is likewise involved where the emotional expression of the work is conveyed through the use of color hue contrasts and complementary relations.

Consider the appropriate lack of resistance in the bounding space in Flying Man (2017), but then the darkness surrounding the optimistic colors of European Optimism (2017) or the Elements of World Power (2017).

Flying Man European Optimism Elements of World Power
Flying Man (2017) European Optimism (2017)

Tension is a relation between opposites or opposing directs, and in Virtosu's work, there is a marked pulling, straining between parts of the composition, but also a balance where sufficient resistance is maintaining the motion or movement of energy expressed by a figure in transition.

It is these opposing and complementary forces that can be described in terms of Deleuze's rhizome. There is no ignoring the unity at the same time that it is defined by opposition.

Key elements

The play of space and non-space are key elements to understanding the rhizome or rhizomatic effect in Virtosu's abstract paintings. In basic two-dimension space, the concept at its most basic implies the distance between two distinct points on the surface.

In Virtosu's painting, these distinct points are often implied as much as they are formal boundaries. His use of blend and texture within backgrounds that at first seem like uniform space, is subtle and deliberate. It creates the illusion of space or the illusion of disconnection.

The impact is to heighten and re-engage the viewer to reinterpret the surfaces they are experiencing.

In this regard, the motion and the form of his figures have a sense of contour. The outer edge of a figure is defined not only by the line but also the color and mass of the texture along with the blended gradations of light and darkness.

The Unity

The opposites concept is embedded in the paintings itself. The rhizomatic aids in providing the form to Virtosu's painterly expression and the focus of this discussion is directed at understanding how the contrasts and unity of opposites create a necessary relationship between them.

One cannot think about the statement of a warm color hue, without being drawn by the meaning of being generated through the contrast. Likewise, tension and balance are expressed through the blending of contours, but also the variables of resistance and release.

There is a harmony between motion as the expression on the one hand, and the form and texture that structure it. The rhizome aids in a discussion of Virtosu 's art because it leaves the concept within the work.

His work is a unity of opposites, but one whose unity and balance are shifting, and shifting in both subtle and strongly articulated ways.

About author Robert McIntosh was born 1965 in Amsterdam, North Holland. He studied at Royal College of Art in South Kensington. Educated in England and the United States. Lives in Amsterdam. Has also lived in Russia. Modern Art. Contemporary Art. He works mainly with oil paintings and sculptures and is interested only in authentic and genuine art. He writes extensively on abstract art.

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