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Federico Solmi (b. 1973, Bologna, Italy) is an internationally acclaimed multi-media artist who employs a satirical aesthetic in order to portray a dystopian vision of our present-day society. Combining traditional media, such as drawing and painting, with emerging technologies such as 3D animation, video-game software, and kinetic technology, Solmi's animations playfully and irreverently depict the most loathed and hypocritical aspects of contemporary life and western society through absurd narratives. Solmi stages a a virtual world where our leaders become puppets and the absurdity of exploitative action is accentuated, brilliantly animated by computer scripts and motion capture. 

Solmi’s process of creating video animation involves the construction and development of a virtual world within a video game engine. Surface textures and characters are scanned from original paintings and drawings, later applied to 3D-models designed in Maya and ZBrush. Within each designed "game," Solmi uses the first-person view to explore chaotic environment as both voyeur and director. During production the narratives and images continually evolve and are further developed with drawings and storyboards. Various characters' actions are captured in real time with screen recording software, then edited and overlaid with audio compositions. Once exported and assembled, the resulting video-paintings merge seamlessly with the hand-painted frames surrounding each tv monitor. Each project can take up to three years to complete. 

Solmi’s animated video series The Evil Empire (2006-2009) provoked controversy and censorship in France and Spain, eventually escalating to a now infamous trial in Italy in which he was charged with and tried for obscenity, blasphemy, and offense to religion. The hand-drawn animation is set in "Vatic-Anal-City" in the year 2046 and portrays the exploits of a fictional pope who is addicted to online porn and predatory sex with priests and nuns. A number of related objects accompanied the series, including a sculpture of a crucifix that features Solmi as the Pope with a large grin and a huge erection. The charges were ultimately dismissed, but the attention from this controversy led to Solmi to receiving a 2009 Guggenheim Fellowship. Other videos and series by Solmi include: The Brotherhood (2015-2018), Chinese Democracy and the Last Day on Earth (2012), King Kong and the End of the World (2005), The Giant, and Rocco Never Dies (2004).

Recent exhibitions include The Great Farce (2019) presented by Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment across 100 Times Square billboards; The Great Masquerade (2019), a 20-year survey exhibition at Tarble Arts Center, Charleston, Illinois, and Kunstkraftwerk, Leipzig, Germany; Open Spaces: A Kansas City Experience (2018), organized by Dan Cameron and presented at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Gallery of Art; The Good Samaritan (2018) at Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, NY; The Great Farce (2017) at Frankfurt B3 Biennial, a commissioned work presented on monumental digital billboards on the exterior of the Schpielhaus, The Frankfurt Opera House; 2016 Quadrinnale di Roma, Rome, Italy; and the 2015 B3 Frankfurt Biennial, at which he was awarded the Ben Main Prize, the festival’s top prize. Solmi’s work has been exhibited in numerous museums, institutions, and festivals, including: 54th Venice Biennale (2011); 2010 SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; The Drawing Center, New York; Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Kasseler Kustverein; the Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Kassel; Shenzhen Independent Animation Biennial, Shenzhen, China; National Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow; Reina Sofia and CA2M Centro de Arte de Mayo, Madrid; Loop Barcelona; Australian Center of Moving Images, Melbourne; Victoria Memorial Museum, Calcutta, India; Contemporary Art Center of Rouboix; Palazzo Delle Arti, Naples, and Palazzo Delle Esposizioni, Rome; and Impakt Film and Video Festival, Utrecht. 

 

The Brotherhood and Counterfeit Heroes

Slideshow Thumbnails Back to Series
Federico Solmi, "The Brotherhood Triptych: The Arrival, The Descent, The Departure," 2015, Animated video-paintings in a handmade artist frames, 48 x 36 inches

Federico Solmi
The Brotherhood Triptych: The Arrival, The Descent, The Departure, 2015
Acrylic, gold, and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED monitor, animated video loop
48 x 36 in.
​05:45 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Ballroom," 2016, Installation of 5 animated video-paintings in handmade artist frames, 14 x 32 feet

Federico Solmi
The Ballroom, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED monitors, animated video loops, fabric
14 x 32 ft.
​02:00 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Great Explorers," 2016, Animated video-painting in a handmade artist frame, 36 x 24 inches

Federico Solmi
The Great Explorers, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
​01:43 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Jumping Badger," 2016, Animated video-painting in a handmade artist frame, 36 x 24 inches

Federico Solmi
The Jumping Badger, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
02:09 min.
 

Federico Solmi, "The Father of His Country," 2015, Animated video-painting in a handmade artist frame, 52 x 34 inches

Federico Solmi
The Father of His Country, 2015
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
52 x 34 in.
​02:03 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Holy Master," 2016, Animated video-painting in a handmade artist frame, 52 x 36 inches

Federico Solmi
The Holy Master, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
52 x 34 in.
​02:04 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Royal Villains," 2017, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 36 x 24 inches

Federico Solmi
The Royal Villains, 2017
Acrylic paint and gold leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
36 x 24 x 3.75 in

Federico Solmi, "The Magnificent Exploiter," 2016, Animated video-painting in a handmade artist frame, 36 x 24 inches

Federico Solmi
The Magnificent Exploiter, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
​01:37 min.

Federico Solmi The Englightened Despot, 2016

Federico Solmi
The Englightened Despot, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
​01:37 min.

Federico Solmi, "The American Fabius," 2016, Animated video-painting in a handmade artist frame, 84 x 48 inches

Federico Solmi
The American Fabius, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED monitor, animated video loop
84 x 48 in.
​01:37 min.

Federico Solmi, "A Confederacy of Scoundrels," 2017, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 58 x 38 inches

Federico Solmi
A Confederacy of Scoundrels, 2017
Acrylic paint and gold leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
58 x 38 x 3.75 in

 

 

Federico Solmi, "The Conspirators," 2017, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 58 x 38 inches

Federico Solmi
The Conspirators, 2017
Acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
58 x 38 x 3.75 in.
 

Federico Solmi, "The Beloved Trickster," 2017-2018, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 72 x 48 inches

Federico Solmi
The Beloved Trickster, 2017-2018
Acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
72 x 48 x 3.75 in.
03:04 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Esteemed Scoundrel" 2017-2018, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 72 x 48 inches

Federico Solmi
The Esteemed Scoundrel, 2017-2018
Acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
72 x 48 x 3.75 in.
02:57 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Eminent Manipulator," 2017-2018, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 36 x 24 inches

Federico Solmi
The Eminent Manipulator, 2017-2018
Acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
36 x 24 x 3.75 in.
03:48 min.

Federico Solmi The Gracious Conquistator, 2016

Federico Solmi
The Gracious Conquistator, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
​01:37 min.

Federico Solmi, "The Liberator," 2015, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 24 x 16 inches

Federico Solmi
The Liberator, 2015
Acrylic paint, gold and silver leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
24 x 16 x 3.75 in.

Federico Solmi, "The Rotten Ones," 2017, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 36 x 24 inches

Federico Solmi
The Rotten Ones, 2017
Acrylic paint and gold leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
36 x 24 x 3.75 in

Federico Solmi, "The Schemers," 2017, Animated video-painting in painted artist frame, 58 x 38 inches

Federico Solmi
The Schemers, 2017
Acrylic paint and gold leaf on plexiglass, LED screen, video loop
58 x 38 x 3.75 in

Federico Solmi The Englightened Despot, 2016

Federico Solmi
The Englightened Despot, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
​01:37 min.

Federico Solmi The Gracious Conquistator, 2016

Federico Solmi
The Gracious Conquistator, 2016
Acrylic, gold and silver leaf on plexiglas, LED monitor, animated video loop
36 x 24 in.
​01:37 min.

“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"

 

In his typical sardonic and irreverent style, Somi's video portrait series entitled, The Brotherhood (2015-2016), parodies the iconography of historical portraiture, creating his own absurd portraits of our most feared and beloved historic leaders. These mythical leaders are presented as members of The Brotherhood, an organization that has the goals to keep chaos in the world and promote the degeneration of the human race. Solmi portrays history as propaganda—fabricated, manipulated, and carefully crafted by leaders and governments in order to suit their needs. The Brotherhood addresses how our knowledge of the past is always skewed, incomplete, and irresolute. Solmi challenges us to question our beliefs towards history and claims that through our own patriotic or religious partisanship, we may be perpetuating these myths ourselves.

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