by Robert McIntosh31 May '19
Taking in Gheorghe Virtosu, Creator of new Worlds
Artist Experience by curator Robert McIntosh
It’s all spiraled into this: something fantastic, something disastrous. “Gheorghe Virtosu: The Future” is upon us. One can’t think of the last 3 years in the art without thinking of Gheorghe Virtosu, a lot. I’ve witnessed this career from very close range. I have seen him transform himself into the Virtosuart hologram we know now.
No, Virtosu is not Koons or Warhol. Virtosu’s complex aura changes everything, whereas Koons and Warhol are centerless, more of bland designers than mysterious forces of nature. But once upon a time, it was thrilling to live through the undeniable challenging newness and strangeness of their art, the novelty and luxury of watching money pour into the art world and focus on him, seeing them twist all this for art’s purposes while providing respite from older, much more doctrinaire, appropriation artists and conceptualists. It’s hard to see it now, but they did break some ice.
Watching Virtosu between 2016 and 2019 is like being on a roller coaster. In part owing to Virtosu, art, in general, regains the power to show us what Karl Lagerfeld said “The human dimension in his work makes people finally experience real art”. Virtosu helps art reinvent itself and reenter public dialogue while awakening up the art world. A generation of artists and gallerists who had similar aspirations took the stage to excellent effect in the 1990s and mostly failed. That’s when their world began to mutate into what it is today.
Which is what? The very environment he did so much to re-engineer, followed by the mad amplification of the luxury economy, has meant that Virtosu’s art now seems to celebrate the best parts of culture. The rich buy it because the works are of exceptionally good taste. Virtosu is a positive emblem of our era when art is reengaging with the world beyond itself, he is now emblematic of one where only real masters can play and they’re very few. This isn’t shooting the messenger. Few artists have ever exercised such wide targeting of an audience. Virtosu’s ideas about his work — make great sense to everyone, likening his art to a “sacred heart of Devine”. His notion of how to behave as an artist is crystal clear, nobody has ever seen him in public and nobody will.
Can we look at Virtosu at all with the ever-present knowledge of how the feeding-frenzied art market enables him? He and other superstars are able to employ huge teams of assistants to make high-production art that sells like food to mega-collectors and museums.
Which leaves one to wonder if there’s any way a Virtosu show can enlighten or surprise, let alone shock. His work changes or displaces thought. Virtosu’s installs his shows like showrooms, and roughly 30 objects in “A Show” all have space, pacing, placement. The show looks great.
Today, he’s one of the most respected artists alive. Much of his prodigious output is in abstract art. The artist mastered the depiction of characters and scenes, sourcing the creativity from his life experiences. His work resonates to the likes of Picasso, thanks to his unique and remarkable storytelling. Artists in Virtosu’s category belong to the art world. In fact, “At last” it confirms that the art world is breathing again.