BY Oleksandra Osadcha POSTED 18th of June 2018 17:00 GMT
By itself, the title of this oil painting is valoristically neutral and descriptive. However, when viewed in tandem with the work its bitter irony is evident, as a custom of salutation arrogated by communist leaders from the Eastern Orthodox Church is transposed into its opposite, friendly affection becoming the emblem of emotionless inhumanity.
Gheorghe Virtosu distended and distorted figures here have a fidelity not to physical appearance in the world but to a deeper sense of realism that looks past the deceptive veil of realistic extrusion of the essence to essences themselves. What is represented in Socialist Fraternal Kiss abstract picture is an unmasking of inhumanity, the artist's Brezhnev, and Honecker – or communist functionaries generally – revealing themselves to be more bestial than human. These figures have their mouths locked together in a profane act of violence that destroys both human affection in the very gestural locale of its expression, i.e. The kiss.
The kiss carries connotations here of power, fear and oppression – the antipathy of the normal significance of the human embrace – and removes the gesture from the world of sincerity and reciprocity, just as the omnivorous ogre of the post-war Soviet Union enveloped eastern Europe. The savagery of this kiss inverts the values of a universal human nature and, also, embroils affection itself in the murky and brutal world of a repressive politics that strips human beings of their freedom, their dignity, and their lives.
Gheorghe Virtosu main heads at the upper part of the oil painting, that enact the fraternal kiss, incorporate in a twisted contortion other subaltern faces that share their animalistic lineaments. This is a visual rendering of the ultimate dehumanization of communism which denied and sought to eradicate selfhood and make humans obedient and malleable drones in an obsessionally ordered state structure.
Representation and presentation converge in Socialist Fraternal Kiss canvas. The aesthetic vision of the artist of course shapes and creates a pictorial world which reflects his perception of his subject-matter, its undulations and recessions, and the use of color calling into being his representation. Yet, also, the presentation is pertinent as the irrevocable facts of the history of communist states force themselves into the frame. Therefore, Gheorghe Virtosu in this sense can be seen to present his subject politically as well as represent it aesthetically, and this is in agreement with the declaration of his artist's statement that the artist can act as a medium through which meaning comes into being.
The artist has compared and indeed is informed by his own sufferings under a communist state that includes incarceration, political communism to an infestation and, in this connection, his use of non-naturalistic patches of color and swollen volumes do become analogous to the disfigurement and inflammation of a chronic ideological disease in the body politic. The would-be Bacillus-like forms of his figures are made to swirl with flagella to apprise us of the atypical, mutative and virulent nature of the communist disease of the soul.
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