At the center of each strikingly colored seascape—here a neon yellow sky, there a violet ocean—from Angelo Filomeno’s Islands series is a single iceberg, volcano, or isle, their intricate topographies shifting and shimmering in the light. With a background in couture and costume design, Filomeno infuses the use of embroidery with a deep knowledge of art history. Of particular interest are memento mori—still-life paintings popular in early modern Europe meant to serve as reminders of our mortality and the transience of earthly goods. Filomeno’s concerns are more secular and terrestrial: beneath their sumptuous colors and the luster of silk and thread, the Island works warn of environmental catastrophe. Like the skulls in traditional memento mori, his pared-down landforms function as universally recognizable icons of climate change, recalling at once melting glaciers and icecaps, rising sea levels and submerged islands, and the ominous red skies from burning forests.
Works from the Island series, 2021; embroidery on silk shantung stretched over cotton; courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong, New York
Based in New York, Angelo Filomeno has been sewing since age seven, and worked in fashion and costume design before pursuing a career as an artist. He uses the traditional craft of embroidery to create intricately designed tableaux that often hint at macabre themes. His works have been exhibited around the world, including at the 52nd Venice Biennale.