BY Shane Lewis POSTED 14th of JuLY 2018 17:00 GMT
Our protagonist here has his head in a reverential posture. We have arrived at the classical concept of 'the most pregnant moment' in Virtosu's partially abstract art and thoroughly modern oil painting – modern in terms of both theme and treatment. As we view the pregnant moment of the ceremonial of baptism, we cannot infer but can only imagine the back-narrative prior to this moment of seeming incongruity: the baptism of a homosexual.
There is an ambiguous mood to this oil painting that leaves much for the spectator to piece together. Perhaps it is an excoriation of the historical exclusivity of the Christian churches or maybe it is a hopeful premonition of their increased tolerance and a relenting of a homophobic and centuries-old doctrinal tradition. The artist's background is meticulously regimented with the use of imprecise – but not the less trenchant for that – imbricated boxes that tell us of the order and discipline of the desired Christian life but also the constraints of the providential laws that Christianity promulgates.
Jumping out at us from this muted background that is possibly also an elaboration on the interior wall of a church is our figure. He displays luminous colors that relegate the 'straight lines' of church dogma below the real, pulsing being of the initiate. The form of a golden beard droops down as the lower part of this bipartite figure and we can see within it another initiate or perhaps our figure himself in microcosm and become a 'child of God' while being suspended over the baptismal font which doubles as the mouth of our bust. The mouth, therefore, speaks in a silent piety that discounts all but veneration.
Given the notorious history of the Christian churches' condemnation of homosexuality as a damnable sin, the two parts of the figure can be a fracturing of the sense of a unitary self, even perhaps a perceptible compromise of the self's identity and a submission. But more likely and in view of the relatively recent liberalization of criminal law and of opinion – as well as recent pronouncements by the pope – our figure in the oil painting could be said to be, instead of fractured, actually undergoing a reunification and re-orientation of the self as faith and personal identity begin to coincide in acceptance.
Welcoming of all the faithful
In short, for the Christian dogmatists and especially the Catholic Church to be considered to partake of a loving and truly Christian attitude there must be a welcoming of all the faithful. Then a scene such as this being more prevalent, the Universal Church would honor the word 'catholic', i.e. With respect to the whole of humanity.
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