Using luxurious materials and virtuosic craftsmanship, Angelo Filomeno achieves a disarming beauty in his embroidered images of fanged skulls, exploded peacocks, and hovering insects.

Angelo Filomeno’s embroidered “paintings” depict fragments of animals, plants, and skeletons, which are juxtaposed to symbolize epic struggles between life and death, sexuality and decay, evil and redemption. Despite their psychological tension and implicit brutality, the works are highly ornamental with luxurious threads and glass crystals masterfully sewn and appliquéd in neo-baroque designs onto sheets of Shantung silk. As do the works of nineteenth-century decadents Fernand Khnopf and Aubrey Beardsley, Filomeno’s stylized and seductive forms produce a classic tension between Eros and Thanatos—life and love versus death and nothingness.

Filomeno was born in 1963 in the southern Italian town of Ostuni. He began to learn needlework when, at the age of seven, he was sent by his parents to work for his godfather, a tailor. While the rambunctious child was dismayed at not being allowed to play with his friends after school, his parents told him that by sending him to learn such a useful trade “we put gold into your hands.” After his childhood apprenticeship, Filomeno earned his MFA in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Lecce in southern Italy, and then worked in the fashion industry in Milan.

Upon moving to New York, Filomeno made his living by producing theater costumes.

He has exhibited widely in New York and Italy, and his works were featured in the 2007 Venice Biennale.

Organized by the Frist Art Museum.

2008 Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery Exhibition Sponsor: Welling LaGrone and Morgan Keegan

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