Movie Review: ‘Victori: The Truth Just Can’t Be One Thing’

Greetings again from the darkness. Artists often don’t make for the best interviews. They usually best express themselves through their art – whether that’s music for the ears, words on a page, or paint on a canvas. So it’s understandable that director Michael Melamedoff thought it wise to focus attention on Ed Victori, the young, articulate, poised and educated son … rather than on the eccentric artist himself, Victor Victori. Unfortunately, this approach leaves us tired of Ed and longing for more Victor.

Victor emigrated to the U.S. from South Korea in 1972, and his first major project was a mural depicting all Presidents to that point in time. The mural is still displayed in the White House even today. Much of his career was spent traveling the country painting portraits … not just celebrities and industry leaders, but also the general public. Many of his stops were in shopping malls where his unusual speed allowed him to crank out enough portraits to make money and move on to the next stop.

Director Melamedoff picks up the story when Ed had been laid off from his corporate job in Finance, and has decided to become an art consultant representing his father’s work. We see the build up to the 2012 New York Art Expo, where Ed and his mother Maria do most of the marketing and set-up, while Victor continues to paint. The emphasis seems to be selling Victor’s immense body of work (more than 50,000 per Maria) with a concentration on Multiplism … a self-titled art movement that captures multiple faces and emotions of the same subject within a painting.

By far the most interesting moments come courtesy of the interviews and insight from Victor himself. He is a fascinating guy with the true artist’s disposition – enough ego to believe his work belongs alongside the greats, and enough insecurity to facetiously explain his lack of mass audience acceptance with “I’m sorry I didn’t paint pretty pictures”. That comment is in reference to the immensely popular works of Thomas Kinkade, whom Victor accuses of “cheating” through mass-produced reproductions that are nothing more than “pasting on canvas”. His frustrations are palpable. Victor also claims he pays no attention and is not influenced by other painters, but rather by the music of Beethoven … an unusual revelation by one who paints and sculpts.

While at the Expo, there are some quick exchanges with other artists who display a similar ego/insecurity/desperation blend. It’s during the Expo that Ed’s clinical and business-type approach is most obvious. He clashes with Maria, who just wants to sell enough of the work to make money, while Ed’s vision is to establish his father as a great artist, thereby establishing himself as a legitimate art consultant. The age old clash of commerce and art is on display, but all we really want is more time from Victor, so we can hear him explain why Andy Warhol is not a great artist, but he himself should be recognized as one.

Out on DVD March 3.

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