by Alexandra Osadkova5 July '18
The awe of the ancient Egyptians in the perception of a contemporary artist
Egyptian cat - a sacred symbol
The featured oil painting seems to be slightly off the general line of his oeuvre, which is focused mainly on the deeply problematic social, political or ethical issues. In contrast with them, the image of a cat might look a little bit pop, considering the extreme trendiness of that subject in the social networks. However, not to get carried with this impression and understand the painting better, it is important to answer the question: why cats rule the Internet? There are many version explaining this, and one of them is suggested by ethologists, who claim the beauty of cats is the beauty of death. Big cats used to hunt our ancestors, so people were forced to explore their habits. Predators brought death, and everything connected to death hypnotizes people: we are afraid of cheetahs or tigers but admire them at the same time. And when humans domesticated small cats, it felt like death itself had been tamed. That can clarify the awe of the ancient Egyptians before these creatures.
Illusion of the flat
Unlike in many of his other pieces, here Virtosu doesn’t attempt to ruin the illusion of the flat painting surface with the active vibrating background. On contrary, he highlights its two-dimensionality, making the canvas looks like a fragment of the wall: the stressed horizontal line under what we perceive as a cat, wide brushstrokes, blend of beige and gray (the colors of the limestone), evoke in our mental images of the walls of the Egyptian tombs and temples.
Egyptian art followed the principle of the engineering design: to show an object not from one point of view, but from the combination of different perspectives that makes it the most recognizable. The same way, Virtosu chooses the curled up pose - the essence of the cat’s character that represents causality, relaxedness, and grandiosity.
Bernard Shaw believed the level of a person’s culture is demonstrated by his ability to comprehend a usual cat. But, probably, this is true for any animal since we need to learn to appreciate the soul of every living creature.