Known for his stunningly detailed, opulent embroidered paintings in which fantasy, sexuality, religion, and death intermingle, Angelo Filomeno strikes a distinctly raw and somber tone with Betrayed Witches, an exhibition of new works of black and silver. In addition to the embroidered paintings, which are primarily monochromatic, two sculptures will be on view—a hand-blown glass skeleton, and a 13-foot whip of leather, glass, and onyx. Betrayed Witches is Filomeno’s first solo exhibition at Galerie Lelong and will open to the public on Thursday, March 6, from 6 to 8 pm. The artist will be present at the opening.
Filomeno’s practice combines classical painting with the traditional craft of embroidery; the results defy and transcend both. Incorporating such luxurious materials as shantung silk, crystals, and onyx throughout intricate and meticulous designs, the paintings are inherently sensual and further seduce with their painstaking technique. In contrast with the immediate allure of the surface, Filomeno’s tableaus are filled with a motley array of macabre characters—skeletons, beasts, insects, limbs, feces. Whimsical and eccentric, the imagery is not ironic but rather strongly personal and symbolic. Fragility, mutability, anxiety, and passion imbue the work.
Mortality and ambiguity are pervasive throughout the works in Betrayed Witches—flesh, skulls, dangling rope, and anthropomorphized creatures are among the motifs in the exhibition. In one work, a large scarab—a symbol of decay and renewal—sits at the center of a black mandala, a pattern rooted in spirituality and meant to represent the cosmos. In another, a towering, vacant cross rests quietly and suggests a deposed Christ. In Filomeno’s work, there is a tension between baroque beauty, in which excess defines ecstasy, and an existential loneliness of a being devoid of its context. Both rich and restrained, his stories exist as self-contained narratives that are highly allusive, haunting, and profoundly affecting.
Angelo Filomeno was born in Ostuni, Italy in 1963 and has lived in New York since 1992. He has exhibited internationally since 1996 in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe, and Japan. His work has been included in major international biennials: the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) and ARS 06 at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki. Recent museum exhibitions include Senso Unico at P.S.1 in New York City and Pricked: Extreme Embroidery at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Eros and Thanatos, the artist’s first museum solo exhibition, is currently on view at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville.