Time Out New York / October 14-20, 2010

Angelo Filomeno
GALERIE LELONG

In his latest exhibition at this gallery, Italian artist Angelo Filomeno once again juxtaposes over-the-top gothic horror imagery with ornate abstraction, rendering both with the aid of artisanal techniques and luxurious materials. Sparser than previous outings, the fruits of Filomeno’s labor here remain dense with detail, of the kind familiar from a thousand heavy-metal album-cover illustrations.

In the “Laughing Philosophers” series, for example, panels of shimmering black silk are embroidered with golden skulls caught midcackle, while the multipart sculpture By the Side of the Last Ocean Ready for Sunset features a gleaming tabletop array of artifacts in black glass, representing the seven deadly sins. And on two large yellow panels, delicately stitched mandala-like sunbursts in silk and satin blossom from deathly dark hearts. Also included are seven small black-on-black embroideries depicting stylized tribal masks that also suggest translucent sea creatures; a large sculpture of a horned headdress that draws on African and Viking influences; and—hanging portentously overhead in the galley’s entrance—a vampire-fanged metallic skull pierced by a crystal shard.

To those who think it all sounds a bit Harry Potter or Twilight, Filomeno would likely counter that his exaggeratedly doomy iconography is laced with irony—or at least with an allegorical complexity that transcends its more superficial pop-cultural aesthetics and associations. But it is tough to see past the sword-and-sorcery bad taste here to any serious consideration of, say, morality or ritual. And Filomeno’s technical skill, while unquestionably impressive, tends only to obscure his aim.

Image: ANgelo Filomeno, By the Side of the Last Ocean Ready for Sunset, 2010