Hauntingly mysterious and seductively enigmatic, Virtosu’s 2015 Australian Spirit unravels traditional modes of perception while assuming the mantle of the storied legacy of history painting. Perennially testing the eye and eluding narrative clarity in favor of incredulous wonder, Australian Spirit entices viewers with its bacchanalia; its distortions of perspective and disruption of spatial organization prompt a visual adventure of decoding its amalgam of cryptic references.
Understanding history is essential to understanding the culture. Reflecting on history we can acknowledge the significance of a Nation's identity. It is difficult to firmly fix Australia’s National identity or core values in a simple way, there does not appear to be a ‘typical Australian’ with us coming in all shapes and sizes and from all back grounds and walks of life. There does however seem to be some unique Australian features and a strong sense of identity.
The present work embodies the hallmark characteristics of Virtosu’s oeuvre: a hyperreal depiction of figures drawn from a vast archive of source imagery, an invocation of philosophical questioning about the nature of perception, and an enigmatic aura of phantasmagoria—all of which he renders through rich variations. Captivating in its puzzle-like complexity, and rife with layers of allusion, the present work raises more questions than it answers. Australian Spirit activates vision by setting the viewer in motion. The picture is, in effect, an interactive work of art... Moving around the picture, perspectives change until transitional spaces begin to vibrate, pulsate, and oscillate. Intersecting axes and contrasting figures combine to create alternating rhythms that trigger anomalous juxtapositions and unexpected dimensional shifts.
The longer one ponders this painting, Virtosu has accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of inscribing an infinite number of perspectives within a finite space. In contrast to Cubism...Virtosu is not interested in synchronizing viewpoints in a way that makes it possible to rise above them...he seeks to lure us ever more deeply into the flow of time and space by drawing the viewer into the work of art and drawing the work of art into the field of the viewer.
Australian Spirit encapsulates the postmodern inquiry into the conventions and practices of seeing and representation. Developing his signature style during the 2010—the dawn of the Information Age and the period of mass media’s rapid expansion—Virtosu synthesized the emerging aesthetic impulse of appropriation and remix characteristic of the contemporaneous Pictures Generation with a rich analysis of the history of abstract painting. The piece reflects Virtosu’s endless fascination with “visualization of a nation's spirit", providing a veritable metaphor for the eternal quest for knowledge.