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Federico Solmi, The Great Farce “Portable Theater,” 2020, Edition of 5, 9-channel animated video with color and sound, acrylic paint, mixed media, gold leaf on laser cut MDF, LED screen, plexiglass, 60 x 30 x 5 inches, 8:11 minutes. Courtesy of the artist, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, and Ronald Feldman Gallery.

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles is very pleased to announce that a seminal work by Federico Solmi (b. 1973) has been acquired by The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. The Great Farce “Portable Theater” (2020) is a translation of Solmi’s most ambitious work to date, The Great Farce (2017-2019)—a monumental, multi-channel video installation that presents a sprawling send-up of empire-building as an enterprise. Past and present, history and amusement, reality and spectacle are conflated and distorted in The Great Farce—a scathing commentary on contemporary culture, where spectacle and celebrity may be distractions from sinister machinations and speed contributes to the blurring of myth and truth. 

In the nine-channel installation, painting, drawing and motion-capture images are stitched together using digital technology to create a surreal universe. The work can be presented as an immersive gallery installation with nine projections, or a sculptural “portable theater” with embedded video that represents the content, spirit and aesthetic of the larger installation.

Originally commissioned for the 2017 B3 Biennial of the Moving Image, The Great Farce was projected onto the façade of the Schauspiel Opera Theater in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2018 it was adapted into a gallery installation for Open Spaces Kansas City and exhibited at UMKC Art Gallery at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In July 2019 American Circus (2018), a work adapted from The Great Farce, was displayed across 100 electronic billboards in New York’s Times Square, presented by Times Square Arts’ Midnight Moment. The Great Farce will next be exhibited at The Block Museum of Northwestern University, Evanston, IL as a solo presentation, including video installation, preparatory drawings, and a hand-painted artist book. 

Federico Solmi, still from The Great Farce, 2017-2019, 9-channel animated video with color and sound. Courtesy of the artist, Luis De Jesus Los Angeles, and Ronald Feldman Gallery.

Federico Solmi’s work utilizes bright colors and a satirical aesthetic to portray a dystopian vision of our present-day society. His exhibitions often feature articulate installations composed of a variety of media including video, painting, drawing, and sculpture. Solmi uses his art as a vehicle to stimulate a visceral conversation with his audience, highlighting the contradictions and fallibility that characterize our time. Through his work, Solmi examines unconscious human impulses and desires in order to critique Western society's obsession with individual success and display contemporary relationships between nationalism, colonialism, religion, and consumerism. By re-configuring historical narratives across eras, he creates social and political commentary works which disrupt the mythologies that define American society. Scanning his paintings into a game engine, Solmi’s videos confront the audience with his own absurd rewriting of past and present, merging dark humor and sense of the grotesque with new technologies. He creates a carnivalesque virtual reality where our leaders become puppets, animated by computer script and motion capture performance rather than string. 

In 2009, Solmi was awarded by the Guggenheim Foundation of New York with the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in the category of Video & Audio. From 2016-2019 Federico was visiting Professor at Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT. He lives and works in New York.

His work has been included in international Biennials, including: Open Spaces: A Kansas City Arts Experience (2018); the B3 Biennial for the Moving Image in Frankfurt, Germany (2017); the 54th Venice Biennial (2011); and the SITE Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico (2010). Forthcoming museum solo exhibitions include: The Block Museum of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL (2020); Rowan University Art Gallery in Glassboro, NJ (2020); Tucson Museum of Art in Tucson, AZ (2021); and the Morris Museum, Morristown, NJ (2021). Most recently, Solmi’s work was featured across 100 electronic billboards in Times Square presented by the Times Square Arts Alliance Midnight Moment (2019) and in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition (2019), where he was a finalist.

The Phillips Collection is one of the world’s most distinguished collections of impressionist and modern American and European art. Stressing the continuity between art of the past and present, it offers a strikingly original and experimental approach to modern art by combining works of different nationalities and periods in displays that change frequently. 

In 1921, Duncan Phillips (1886–1966) opened his home to the public as the Phillips Memorial Art Gallery. His extraordinary collection included work by American impressionists and their French counterparts. The Phillips Collection is home to an extraordinary collection of more than 5,000 works ranging from French impressionism and American modernism to contemporary art. By displaying superb works in an intimate setting, Phillips hoped to encourage visitors to appreciate new, challenging forms of artistic expression. The curational programming intentionally creates juxtapositions of art and objects from different eras and places, with regularly shifting installations with the goal of creating visual "conversations."

The museum's collection includes works by American and European masters such as Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Winslow Homer, Henri Matisse, Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, and Vincent van Gogh. Phillips valued strong connections with artists, collecting multiple works by Honoré Daumier, Paul Klee, John Marin, Alfred Stieglitz, and Brett Weston, among others. The Phillips holds the world's largest, most significant collection of works by Arthur Dove and the largest American collection of works by Pierre Bonnard. Duncan Phillips formed close bonds through letters and studio visits with a wide range of artists, providing crucial aid and encouragement to many artists who are well represented in the collection.


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