FEDERICO SOLMI: The Brotherhood
June 4 - July 9, 2016
“There's something missing in all writings about power: Very few are able to capture how funny it is. When they examine the horrors that power commits, the sufferings it imposes, the blood with which it stains itself, historians and political scientists always forget to highlight the ridiculous aspects of the inevitable monster and how funny they are, with their ironed uniformed, unearned medals and invented awards.”
- Oriana Fallaci, Interviews with History and Conversations with Power
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce Federico Solmi's second solo exhibition with the Gallery, entitled The Brotherhood, on view from Saturday, June 4th through July 9, 2016. An artist’s reception will be held on Saturday, June 4th, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Federico Solmi’s new series of animated video works parody the iconography of historical portraiture through a group of absurd and grotesque portraits of the world’s most feared and beloved leaders—presented as members of The Brotherhood, a secret society whose conspiratorial goal is to keep chaos alive in the world and promote the degeneration of human race.
Included among these historical and mythical figures are Sitting Bull, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Chancellor Bismarck, Genghis Khan, Pharaoh Ramses, Inca Emperor Pachacuti, Alexander the Great, Christopher Columbus, Pope Benedict XVI, Julius Caesar, Montezuma, Empress Theodora, Benito Mussolini, Marie Antoinette, and other powerful men and woman throughout history.
The Brotherhood advances Solmi’s biting critique of a present-day dystopian society that inexorably continues to regenerate and renew itself, even as it falls apart in front of our eyes. In hand-drawn, color-saturated, satirical videos Solmi torches the veneer of mystique and aura surrounding these legendary figures from the past. He exposes history as a propaganda-fabricated ruse, manipulated and carefully crafted to suit their ideals and selfish interests.
For this exhibition Solmi has created more than a dozen new videos that will be presented on flatscreen monitors encased in elaborately hand-painted and gilded frames. These works include eight portraits installed in the front gallery that depict individual figures posing and preening, as if before a gloating audience. In the back gallery, the artist will present an installation of five unique video-plinths arranged in the form of a classical amphitheater depicting a gathering of figures at a historic mansion, played out in five different scenes.
In his work, Solmi underscores how skewed, incomplete, and irresolute our knowledge of the past is, and challenges us to question that knowledge, particularly how our own views and biases may be perpetuating the myth. The Brotherhood seems to affirm that throughout the history of humanity politics and government has always been a ruthless activity for the powerful and the rich (not unlike today), an elite game where the common person is simply nothing more than a voyeur to an engrossing spectacle.
Federico Solmi (born in Italy, 1973) currently lives and works in New York. Current and recent museum exhibitions include solo projects at the Haifa Museum of Art, Israel, and Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Santiago, Chile; and group exhibitions at MIT Boston, Artium Museum—Centre of Contemporary Art in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country, Spain; CA2M—Centro De Arte Dos De Mayo, Madrid, Spain; and MACBA Museum, Barcelona, Spain.
Solmi's works have been exhibited in a number of international surveys, including the XVI Quadriennale di Roma, Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome, Italy (opening October 2016); the Frankfurt B3 Biennial of Moving image (2015), where he was awarded the Grand Prize; First Shenzhen Animation Biennial, China (2013); 54th Venice Biennial (2011), and the 2010 SITE Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico. In 2009, Federico Solmi was awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in the category of Video & Audio. Federico Solmi is currently visiting Professor at Yale University, New Haven, CT.
"...Solmi brings together some of history's greatest tyrants and creeps - Idi Amin, Genghis Khan, Marie Antoinette - and has them strut their stuff on the red carpet and the dance floor. More than anything, Solmi captures the garish pomp and obscene self-display that despots almost always prefer."
- Blake Gopnik, Artnet
"The scratchy lines of Solmi's distinctive, cartoonish, garishly hued renderings of the leaders and their surroundings thankfully don't resemble the polished, rounded forms of mainstream digital animation, with its cloying, interchangeable characters. ...Napoleon, Mussolini, and Marie Antoinette among others arrive at a red-carpet event, proceed down a grand staircase, and depart on a spaceship amid a cheering throng of spectators, evoking the idea that such leaders are mainly entertainers wielding unearned power."
- Chris Bors, Artforum