Manuel Felisi 1:1

Curated by Gabriele Simongini

Opening to the public from Feb. 17 until April 21, 2024 Manuel Felisi. 1:1, an exhibition by artist Manuel Felisi, curated by Gabriele Simongini and set up in the spaces of the Carlo Bilotti Museum, in the heart of Villa Borghese. The exhibition is promoted by Roma Capitale, Assessorato alla Cultura, Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, produced and organized by Galleria Russo with the support of GruppoBanca del Fucino, in collaboration with the Fondazione Bioparco di Roma and in media partnership with National Geographic Italia. The Carlo Bilotti Museum is the ideal to host the artist’s project dedicated to the animal world: a bestiary depicted on large wooden boards placed in dialogue with the nearby Bioparco, the garden Italy’s oldest zoological garden. The collaboration with the Fondazione Bioparco di Roma will also make it possible to observe live some of the animals portrayed by the artist and protected within it to make possible further insight into the nature of the species.1:1 as the title suggests sees on display 80 life-size works life-size, created with the hybrid painting technique-a stylistic signature of Felisi, who has always practiced an art of mixing techniques and languages, modes of tradition and technological innovation, finding in versatility the key to his research.

“Felisi/Noah,” writes curator Gabriele Simongini, “brings into the great Ark of painting the image/memory of animals whose existence is often threatened by our insane and pervasive environmental aggression. Suspended between appearance and disappearance, not infrequently transformed into ghostly presences, the animals stare at us almost incredulously, silhouetted in full scale against backgrounds that seem to evoke even the refinement of Art Deco and in any case a time that already belongs to the dimension of memory.”
Indeed, if in the artist’s works the central iconography are tree and flowers, symbols of life that extol the power of nature, in the exhibition 1:1 Felisi ventures for the first time into the representation of the animal kingdom, which sees along with two-dimensional works, some works subtracted from the static through digital animation achieved through digital art interventions.
“On the large wooden surfaces,” says the artist, “the rollers and gauzes, resins and irregular backgrounds that characterize my painting have found fertile ground to create a fantasy world in which to immerse my animals.”

The exhibition was born in the artist’s soul during the first lockdown in the
spring of 2020. During such a dramatic period of Covid and stasis forced, some photos of animals taken by Felisi during a trip to Senegal have suggested a reflection on the dangers that animal species are facing due to the degradation of their natural habitat. Through the mediation of art, Felisi creates thus the idea of an enchanted garden that can shelter animals from any insidiousness.
The obvious reference is with the biblical Ark. Every Ark is made of wood, and the onecreated by Felisi is no exception, which is why for the works in the exhibition he uses large wooden boards. There is no shortage of references to the Contemporary. In particular to the “Bestiary” created by Andrea Pazienza, a collection of drawings, sketches, illustrations by the well-known cartoonist dedicated to the animal world and the creations for children designed by Bruno Munari, in which animal forms play a key.