Federico Solmi: The Bacchanalian Ones
On view November 2, 2020 – January 9, 2021
Rowan University Art Gallery presents The Bacchanalian Ones, Federico Solmi’s satirical and clownish portrayal of controversial contemporary and historical characters and the distorted events that have contributed to a culture of misinformation, corruption, and hypocrisy.
Using game engines, Virtual and Augmented Reality combined with his drawings and paintings, Solmi creates ghoulish and bombastic animated depictions of political leaders, colonial rulers, and historical explorers as overindulgent, degenerate devotees of the cults of Bacchus and Dionysus as they engage in extravagant and deranged celebrations, parades, parties, ballroom dance, and feasts. In this body of work, Solmi blends ancient mythology with contemporary celebrity culture and modern myth to reframe and expose inaccuracies in the historical narrative. Debuting in The Bacchanalian Ones are these brand-new works: The Dreadful Ones, Solmi’s first virtual reality piece with custom headset masks, The Bathhouse five-channel video painting installation, The Indulgent Fathers video painting, and a new augmented reality embedded in his 2019 painting, The Great Debauchery.
Solmi says of his work, “I always believed that art can be used as an effective tool for social change. Art for me it’s a vehicle to fight injustices, a tool to spread awareness and independent thinking. With my artworks, I hope to inspire people to discover facts, to try to decode reality from fiction, historical truth from propaganda. One of the greatest difficulties I encountered when I moved to the United States in 1999, was to decipher American history, its contradictions, and inaccuracies that I often encountered in my research and reflections. I had a lot of trouble distinguishing the reality of historical facts, unequivocal, from the government propaganda told in the books. I strongly believed that only if I had been able to understand the origins of this nation, in its roots, would I one day understand the society in which I had chosen to live, and only thus one day, would I have been able to have my say.”
A catalog will be produced for The Bacchanalian Ones with an essay by celebrated author and art critic Eleanor Heartney. Ms. Heartney is an independent cultural critic and author residing in New York City. Currently, she is contributing editor for Art in America and Art Press and co-president of the American Section of the International Art Critics Association. She has written for most major cultural publications including Artnews, New Art Examiner, the Washington Post, Sculpture, and the New York Times. She recently published a new book entitled Doomsday Dreams: The Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Art which includes Federico Solmi.
About the Artist
Federico Solmi (Italy, 1973) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New York. In 2009, Solmi was awarded by the Guggenheim Foundation of New York with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in the category of Video & Audio. His work has been included in several international Biennials, including: Open Spaces: A Kansa City Arts Experience (2018), the Beijing Media Art Biennale (2016), Frankfurt B3 Biennial of the Moving Image (2017-2015), the First Shenzhen Animation Biennial in China (2013), the 54th Venice Biennial (2011), and the SITE Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico (2010). From 2016 to 2019 Federico Solmi was a visiting Professor at Yale University School of Art and Yale School of Drama, New Haven CT.
Solmi has several forthcoming museum solo exhibitions, including; The Block Museum of Northwestern University (2022), Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey (2021), Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson Arizona (2020), Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro New Jersey (2020), and upcoming group exhibition at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Washington DC and The Block Museum of Northwestern University (2020). Most recently, Solmi’s work was featured in Times Square New York for the Midnight moment and in a solo exhibition in the Ronald Feldman Gallery booth at the 2019 Armory Show (NY). For more information about Federico Solmi’s work visit: https://www.federicosolmi.com
About Rowan University Art Gallery
Rowan University Art Gallery serves as a premier cultural destination for South Jersey, the Rowan community, and the surrounding region. Our mission is to provide a platform for discourse on best practices in contemporary art by professional artists, curators, and scholars through the presentation of interdisciplinary art exhibitions, panel discussions, guest curatorial projects, and other public programming.
This exhibition has been generously funded by the Joseph Robert Foundation with additional support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Special thanks to Dr. Shreekanth Mandayam, Professor Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and George Lacakes, Director of Rowan VR Center for their collaborative contributions to the project and assistance with the VR and the refinement and digital printing of the 3D VR headset masks.
Gallery Location & Hours
301 High St W,
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Rowan University Art Gallery is open by appointment only. Please call or email the gallery to schedule a visit. All visitors must wear a mask and practice safe distancing.