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Virgilius Moldovan’s solo show at the ZERP Gallery, Rotterdam

Vienna-based artist Virgilius Moldovan was born in Brașov, Romania, in 1955, when the city had in fact been renamed ‘Orașul Stalin’ (Stalin City), after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Moldovan’s works are displayed and collected throughout Europe as well as overseas; he is represented since 2013 by the ZERP Gallery in Rotterdam. While his activity is concentrated mainly in Vienna, where he had numerous shows (at the 31st Gallery, Biennale Austria, Haslinger Gallery, Ferstel Palace, Wittgenstein Palace, or WUK to name just a few), the artist has recently achieved considerable recognition also in his homeland by the way of some solo shows mounted by the Art Museums across the country, that is, The Art Museum of Cluj-Napoca, The Art Museum of Craiova, and The Art Museum of Timișoara.

Solo show "Larger than Life" opening in Rotterdam, Photo Courtesy of the artist Virgilius Moldovan

His artistic practice consists predominantly of sculpture, where he uses – besides classical materials like bronze, plaster, or terracotta – a surprising medium to remarkable effect, i.e. pigmented silicon. Often controversial, his representative works depict oversized naked figures in a hyper-realistic manner (he creates figurines, busts and portraits, too). This form of artistic expression, through which the sculpture receives color and texture, recalls a time-honored tradition going back to the painted limestone bust of Nefertiti, for instance, and opens the way to a whole new spectrum of technical possibilities, of which Moldovan is clearly aware.

Selfie by Virgilius Moldovan, Photo Credit Kopacz Kund

The themes he approaches are in one way or another intriguing and range from historical-political references, where he stages personalities like Rembrandt, Rubens, Hitler, or Kim Jong-Un, to pathological typologies, where he showcases a young woman with Down's Syndrome, for example, or overweight individuals. Virgilius Moldovan is convinced that the artist should be sensible to what is happening around him and respond to social and political situations by thematizing them. Obviously a recurring theme in Moldovan's work is the nude, which he also treats in his paintings. A fascinating aspect of his nudes is that he relies on female as well as male models, which somehow strikes a balance in a field long populated predominantly by female representations.

Mefisto by Virgilius Moldovan, Photo Credit Kopacz Kund

The show ‘Larger than Life’ put on view by the ZERP Gallery in Rotterdam between August 20 – 17 September was actually the first Dutch solo of Virgilius Moldovan and featured eight sculptures and four paintings. There were two big silicon figures with masks ‘The son of Minos’ (310 x 100 x 90 cm) and ‘Artemis’ (97 x 115 x 160 cm), two silicon portraits illustrating easily recognizable personalities (Rubens and Kim Jong-Un), another two sculptures made of silicone and bronze, two cast in bronze, and a self-portrait made of plaster titled ‘Selfie’. The four paintings picked for the show rendered individual nudes laying in a kind of abstract urban interior and differed a lot from the collective nudes he had exhibited lately in Hungary or Romania. However, the selection was overall well-balanced given the space of the gallery.

Solo show "Larger than Life" opening in Rotterdam, Photo Courtesy of the artist Virgilius Moldovan

In parallel to the solo show in Rotterdam, the exhibition ‘MEATING’ with more representative works by the artist took place between July 21 – September 12 in Timișoara, Romania within the second edition of the project ‘Baroque||Urban’ hosted at the The Art Museum of Timișoara.

Each show, ‘Larger than Life’ and ‘MEATING’ displayed a portrait of Rubens - one in silicon, the other in bronze - a detail subtly revealing Moldovan’s taste for the Baroque. Other influences or sources of inspiration for his oeuvre are: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Auguste Rodin, Matthias Bernard Braun, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt and Lucian Freud.

Text by Ana-Daniela Sultana

ZERP GalerieVan Oldenbarneveltstraat 120A

3012 GV Rotterdam, The Netherlands


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