All Roads Lead to Fortnite (2020) is Federico Luger’s recent series of works. In these new oil paintings the artist was inspired by the popular videogame Fortnite. Each painting depicts one of the so-called “skins”, a sort of gear a player can buy to dress her or his avatar in the game.
Artists had represented the classic topic of the warrior in different ways throughout art history for centuries; and in fact, the composition of each work alludes to the iconography of the historical portrait, in which weapons, garments and attributes conveyed the power of the depicted subject. In the same way, each of the characters represented in Luger’s paintings is depicted with its gear because these actually imply different “abilities and skills” for the player who adopts it. (Even if all skins are technically the same). At the same time, the paintings balance an extremely realistic and “pop” style in the representation of the skin, with a more gestural and intuitive background. In these backgrounds it is possible to recognise Luger’s personal style as well as elements from previous series; for example, the planets and the loops in Destiny, or the contraposition of geometrical abstract elements in Red Hood and Tomato Head, as well as the inclusion of details that add a hint of humour and irony to these new heroes.
The title of the series, All Roads Lead to Fortnite, alludes to the famous medieval proverb according to which “all roads lead to Rome”. Today, in the age of the electronic representation of information through digital media, roads are not only made of mud and stones, and many of them lead to new kinds of contemporary digital public “places” or “agoras”, like social networks, or video communication technologies (i.e. Zoom, Webex, Skype), thus reconfiguring the general perception of what “geography” is, and how it is currently conformed. In other words, what Marshall McLuhan called “the global village” has never been so literal as today.
However, it is not only a matter of geography, but also of what has been called “a relational space”: a place that sets the conditions for being together, whether this space is physical or virtual does not make a difference any longer. Since 2017, when Fortnite was launched by Epic Games, and in particular during the global lockdown due to the pandemic, this videogame worked for millions of youngsters as an actual “place” of socialisation and of being together; children and teenagers around the world actually met in this virtual space and played together in ways that were not allowed for at least two months in most countries.
Thus the series of works pays homage to this social function of the game by giving a tangible materiality in a traditional medium, as oil on canvas is, to its most iconic characters. Exit the world of bits, enter the reign of pigments.