Virtosu’s body of work seamlessly teleports the audience between various points from the past, present, and future, making his art truly unique. In this amusing and unconventional piece, the artist takes on a lesser-known French character Harlequin and presents the figure through a unique emotional lens – Frustration.
The Harlequin character was first created in the Italian Commedia dell’arte during the 16th century and was popularized with the help of numerous influential actors from the era. The character itself has taken on various forms over the years but is often represented as a light-hearted, intelligent, and mischievous individual who is the servant of a wealthy entrepreneur/landowner. He is often seen ruining his master’s plans and engaging in flirtatious banter with a love interest.
Virtosu has decided to create a subjective portrayal of this historic entity but has retained some important elements that help us recognize the Harlequin. The black and red checkered background, for example, is directly connected with the uniform that Harlequins have used over the years and this is a direct reference to the character. Additionally, the personal touch applied by Virtosu involves creating a frustrated version of the often immature character, and this is done using the centerpiece of the painting. The dull but complex form that draws the attention of the audience is a representation of the state-of-mind of the Harlequin, allowing the celebrated figure to access emotional states that are not usually associated with the figure. Virtosu is allowing the character to change over time and garner new nuances that any long-standing individual rightfully deserves.