Mortality’s Alchemist: Dream of Flies
As I rounded the block and peered into the Pinnacle Gallery’s window, my eyes scanned the room’s walls like a typewriter, reading line by line and wall to wall.
The exhibit was scattered with pieces suggesting imagery ranging from Baroque, Medieval, and Renaissance.
The most impactful piece by Angelo Filomeno titled “Dream of Flies” actually consisted of two panels disjointed by the white wall between them.
The two panels struck my interest and stimulated my mind immediately most likely due to their massive size and the sharp contrast they created, color-wise: the first panel was a charcoal and silver square; the second piece was identical in shape but was very black.
As a unit, the panels popped against the stark white-washed walls and did not overload my senses. Angelo’s panels reminded me of what an Edgar Allen Poe poem would look like on canvas: “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak, and weary…”.
Thus, “Dream of Flies” is about everything Goth such as mortality. I heard vintage, brassy, frightening organ pipes faintly playing while viewing it; the piece screams death like the night yields blackness.
Moreover, the massive and intimidating 90 x 90 panels struck my interest due to a plethora of visual and mental notes, capable of strumming my primordial senses. Foremost, delicately embroidered on silk stretched over linen, the piece is quite textural.
When the sunlight from the windows hits the panels, the tactility of the artwork really comes forth. The light reveals every stitch and snag that silk is most noted by.
I need not touch the pair of panels to get a sense of what the raw, patiently sewed silk would feel like against my fingertips.
The sun’s rays also expose that pearly sheen of the thread done in black, silver, charcoal, and gray; all of which are potentially boring colors save for their glossy attribute in this case.
The first grayish piece is given character filtered through the Savannah sun’s rays, while the second black, velvet-like piece is so dark that not even Mother Nature’s lantern can brighten it the least bit.
Furthermore, “Dream of Flies” is bitter, deep, and dark like raw coffee beans, not easily swallowed. If the gray, steel- colored piece were a flavor, it would be industrial and cold similar to the iron-tang of blood you taste when you accidently bite your lip.
It lingers on the tip of my tongue, the back of my throat, and in the front of my brain, slowly making its way into a deep recessive place where I can easily access the heavy, dangerous, and utterly delectable artwork for contemplation.
“Dream of Flies” left me pondering but not worrying, which is exactly how I felt whilst leaving the gallery: my mind heavy with a grimey cloud of thoughts.
In addition, the dark panels definitely hint at death and all that is involved in that inevitable departure. Though fragile to the touch, the piece is very heavy in notion and subject. Upon arrival at the gallery, the two words that ran circles in my mind were ‘Morbid’ and ‘Gothic’.
The panels lack of colors reminded me of night, a time when only nocturnal creatures crawl about and humans have that instinct to sleep, to be numb like death when we are unconscious and everything is just blackness.
There is nothing overwhelming about the two panels or overly visually stimulating because the color scheme is limited and simplified to make viewer’s of the exhibit focus solely on the theme of death.
Also, the intricate circular pattern, reminiscent of a bulls-eye, is complex, and layered just as life is. The various circles and shapes can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, but I think most would agree that circles are similar to cycles, specifically as in the cycle of life.
Each panel has an archaic insect at its center where four quadrants are tangent. When something dies, a phase occurs where nature feeds on that flesh which in turn nourishes another creature.
Flies are known as disgusting, foul specimens that devour anything and everything in sight even decomposing, spoiled matter that smells of rotten meat. And so it is no wonder that Angelo would feature bugs as his subjects.
In the first panel, a relatively small mosquito is centered in black. Angelo may have possibly used a mosquito because it noshes on the skin of humans, just like flies get nourishment from waste.
It’s left wing appears to have a bite-mark possibly to suggest that all things are recycled; bodies decompose and enrich the soil which other creatures and plants thrive upon.
The second panel includes a beetle in the same scale and position as the mosquito, but blends in more with the rest of the piece. Scarab beetles also feed on flesh as they did in Egypt. Thus, our last day on earth can be filtered through Mr. Filomeno’s work.
In conclusion, Angelo Filomeno deliberately uses death and morbidity in his artwork. His exhibit “Mortality’s Alchemist” consisted of a room dispersed with odd objects: a black glazed millipede mimicking a contortionist, two over-sized Knight’s helmets with a myriad of intricate feathers intertwined hanging from the high ceiling; feathers wavering in the air.
On a pedestal, lay a pair of silver-cast skeletal hands one on top the other as if to suggest complacency.
Filomeno’s collection had themes of life, sexuality, and symbols of vanity.
Yet, amongst all these trinkets and treasures, my senses including touch, taste, thought, and sight were completely taken by the nightmarish “Dream of Flies”.