They say love conquers all, or, in the case of Italian artist Francesco Vezzoli’s latest artwork: 2000-odd years coupled with a painstakingly meticulous restoration process. Freshly unveiled at London’s Almine Rech Gallery, Eternal Kiss features a pair of ancient marble busts locked in a fictional embrace.

Vezzoli acquired the sculptures at auction and together with a team of archaeologists has restored the Roman portraits of a man (circa second century AD) and a woman (Imperial, Hadrianic, circa 117-138 AD) to their original state. Exploring notions of beauty and the artifact, Vezzoli takes on the role of surgeon as he nips and tucks his subjects, mending their broken features and imbuing them with new personas.

This show marks the Milan-based artist’s return to London following a nine-year absence (his last outing here, in stark contrast to Almine Rech Gallery’s intimate space, was held at the Tate Modern). ‘The exhibition will focus on the objects themselves. Eternal Kiss will become nothing less than the most ancient sculpture of a kiss in existence. It’s as simple – or as complicated – as that,’ muses Vezzoli.

So what next for the multifaceted artist? He’s directed a new film starring Cindy Sherman as an ageing diva, which will be unveiled next month in Greece as part of Rufus Wainwright’s opera Prima Donna.