Federico Solmi

Federico Solmi

Federico Solmi: The Bacchanalian Ones

November 2, 2020 – January 16, 2021


Using game engines, motion capture, digital animation, virtual and augmented reality combined with his drawings and paintings, Solmi creates satirical and clownish portrayals of political leaders, colonial rulers and explorers absorbed in extravagant and deranged parties; pompous, imperious parades; and theatrical and contrived events.

Inspired by ancient mythology, modern myth, and contemporary celebrity culture, Solmi has blended together historical characters and depicts them as ghoulish, self-indulgent, degenerate devotees of the cults of Bacchus and Dionysus concerned only with their own power and influence.

Through the absurd behavior of his characters, Solmi asks us to question their relevance and the distorted historical narratives that have led to an era of misinformation, corruption, and hypocrisy.   

Solmi says of his work, “I always believed that art can be used as an effective tool for social change. Art for me it’s a vehicle to fight injustices, a tool to spread awareness and independent thinking. With my artworks I hope to inspire people to discover facts, to try to decode reality from fiction, historical truth from propaganda. One of the greatest difficulties I encountered when I moved to United States in 1999, was to decipher American history, its contradictions and inaccuracies that I often encountered in my research and reflections. I had a lot of troubles distinguishing the reality of historical facts, unequivocal, from the government propaganda told in the books. I strongly believed that only if I had been able to understand the origins of this nation, in its roots, would I one day understand the society in which I had chosen to live, and only thus one day, would I have been able to have my say.”

A catalog will be produced for The Bacchanalian Ones with an essay by celebrated author and art critic Eleanor Heartney. Ms. Heartney is an independent cultural critic and author residing in New York City. Currently, she is contributing editor for Art in America and Art Press and co-president of the American Section of the International Art Critics Association. She has written for most major cultural publications including Artnews, New Art Examiner, the Washington Post, Sculpture, and the New York Times. She recently published a new book entitled Doomsday Dreams: The Apocalyptic Imagination in Contemporary Art, which includes Federico Solmi.

This exhibition has been generously funded by the Joseph Robert Foundation with additional support from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

We greatly appreciate the assistance and contributions to this project by Dr. Shreekanth Mandayam, Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, and George Lecakes, Director of the Rowan VR Center for his consult on the VR, the loan of Oculus headsets, and design refinement and digital printing of the 3-D VR headset masks.

Also, thanks to Will Cook, IRT, and Associate Professor, Amanda S. Almon, Biomedical Art & Visualization, for their technical consultation and support.

This project is a Rowan University Art Gallery production, curated by Mary Salvante, Gallery Director.

Artwork courtesy of Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles, Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York.

Original music composition for The Bathhouse by KwangHoon Han.


Federico Solmi (Italy, 1973) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New York. 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. His work has been included in several international Biennials, including: Open Spaces: A Kansas City Arts Experience (2018), the Beijing Media Art Biennale (2016), Frankfurt B3 Biennial of the Moving image (2017-2015), the First Shenzhen Animation Biennial in China (2013), the 54th Venice Biennial (2011), and the SITE Santa Fe Biennial in New Mexico (2010). From 2016 to 2019 Federico Solmi was visiting Professor at Yale University School of Art and Yale School of Drama, New Haven CT.

Solmi has several forthcoming museum solo exhibitions, including; The Block Museum of Northwestern University (2022), Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey (2021), Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson Arizona (2020), and upcoming group exhibition at Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Washington DC and The Block Museum of Northwestern University (2020). Most recently, Solmi’s work was featured in Times Square New York for the Midnight moment and in a solo exhibition in the Ronald Feldman Gallery booth at the 2019 Armory Show (NY). For more information about

Federico Solmi’s work visit: https://www.federicosolmi.com