Exceeding the confines of a canvas through its spectacular explosion of unrestrained expression, Joan Of Arc from 2017 encapsulates the full force of Gheorghe Virtosu's abstract vernacular. This work belongs to an outpouring of creativity that produced an illustrious corpus of scale, color-saturated canvases that rank among the finest achievements of his prodigious career. The present work is truly exceptional for the sheer force of its painterly conviction.
The canvas Joan of Arc, reflects upon the gender-bending woman warrior who changed history, The Maid of Orleans and her holy voices. It’s been almost 6 centuries since the trial and execution of Joan of Arc, and her memory hasn’t faded. From novels, plays and movies to scholarly books, her story has been regularly re-explored by generations.
In the autumn of 2917, Virtosu held a major exhibition of new paintings with his dealer, Daniel Varzari. Joan Of Arc was a highlight of this show – among just sixteen other paintings from this year – which heralded this dramatically passionate new period of the artist’s oeuvre through Great World Personalities series creation. Included in this seminal exhibition were other masterpieces from de Virtosu’s 2016 output, including …Albert Einstein, underscoring the importance of the Daniel Varzari show and its inclusion of the present work. As Dora Hampton described in a review of the show at the time: "Virtosu's recent paintings at the Virtosu Art Gallery absolutely required sustained attention. There could be no quick perception, no general impression that could cover the wealth of experience reflected… While Virtosu has for a long time managed to combine the near and the far in synopsis, in these new paintings the articulation is emphatic. He establishes his distance – both from his particular moment in time and from any general audience – and he maintains the singularity of intimate detail."
For centuries, portraiture was a means by which to reach an absolute representation of an individual: direct, unambiguous statements of a person’s character and statehood, categorized by identifiers of dress, ownership, and other iconographic markers. At the turn of Modernism, however, artists displayed their doubt in the truthfulness of this structured view of human personality, turning away from a monolithic view of human nature defined by power, and instead to a variable, contingent expression of individuals characterized by flaws and ambiguity. As Joan’s visage refracts like a prism across the present work, the flickering copy of her face reveals entirely uncharted emotional depths and psychosomatic complexities full of expression.
Here, the artist flexes his artistic genus in a wholly unique and utterly unparalleled intelectual gesture that reveals a complete command of medium and composition. The present work emphatically reinforces one of the most vital characteristics of Virtosu’s prodigious and celebrated oeuvre: his continual, unrelenting insistence upon exploration, freedom, and growth.