The 100th anniversary of Mimmo Rotella.

Mimmo Rotella’s powerful creativity

Mimmo Rotella’s goal, at some point in his artistic career, was to thrill through innovation, glimpsing the art where only eyes accustomed to finding beauty could push themselves. One day – as he told in an interview – while he was walking through the streets of Rome he realized that some advertising posters posted on the walls had been torn and it was the tears that gave them a special, unique charm. Because of this episode, the lucky inspiration that led him as the undisputed protagonist of the artistic scene of the second half of the twentieth century emerged. In contrast to the already well-known technique of collage, which cost images and shapes cutting pieces of paper or other material forming a single artistic piece, Mimmo Rotella dedicated himself to décollage that does not “build” but “demolishes” the work through tearing. It was 1953 when the thirty-five year old Rotella had what he called “Zen Illumination”. In 1955, in Rome, in the exhibition “The Seven Painters on the Tiber in Ponte Santangelo” exhibits for the first time the ‘torn poster’, provoking appreciation but also criticism in those who saw a desecration of art. Mimmo Rotella, who died in 2006, remains mainly linked to Pop Art, to which advertising images are reported, especially those of Marilyn Monroe, who together with the portraits made by Andy Warhol, have become icons of our time. To “unveil” another aspect of the multifaceted and intuitive artist was, in January, the exhibition event organized on the occasion of the centenary of his birth at the MAON, Art Museum of the Nineteenth and Twentieth century of Rende (CS) entitled “ROTELLA VS DADA / From Duchamp and Man Ray to New Dadaism” by Tonino Sicoli, who presented the master’s lesser known works, compared to a selection of works by Dadaist authors. As explained by the art critic Sicoli, “With the exception of décollage, Rotella and the new dadaists realize assembly works, with items of second-hand dealers, bottle caps, ropes, plates, glasses, bottles, packaging waste, mechanical parts, everyday materials, crumpled sheets, packaging, plastics. Rotella, in particular, creates objets using objects that recall his name (the surveyor’s wheel, the wheel shell, the licorice wheel) “, practicing a research based on ready-made, that is, objects taken from reality and transformed into works of art with the attribution of a new sense given by the art context and new meanings conveyed by new languages visual. The art of Rotella remains conceptually closer to the provocation of the Dadaists of the Ten-Twenties than to the recovery of the consumerist and advertising object of the pop-artists, despite the analogies. Creativity, spirit of research and humanity: these are just some of the characteristics that have made Rotella one of the leading artistic figures of the twentieth century that still continues to fascinate and surprise. In the city of Catanzaro since 2005 it is possible to enjoy a place of worship for art and Mimmo Rotella lovers: “Rotella’House, Casa della Memoria. Open from Monday to Friday, (from 9.00 to 13.00), and managed by foundation of the same name. The house / museum is set up in the atelier of the modist mother, where Rotella has moved his first steps, approached the colors and refined the sensitivity that led him to be an icon of the avant-garde movements. Inside there are the first retrò d’affiche décollage works such as “Muro Romano” (1957), “Ero io” (1958), or the more recent “Enigma” (1996) and “L’allegro mondo di Charlot” (2004).

Rotella’s relationship with cinema

The celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mimmo Rotella represent the appropriate opportunity to remember one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century who was able to found his own philosophy, courageous and always young, faithful to the cult of modernity, style, ideas and future. His link with the seventh art was extraordinary; Rotella has given the world of cinema something that knows few equals. And the cinema has been able to reciprocate by offering itself to him with tenderness and vocation. With the work “Rotella fuori posto“, together with Eugenio Attanasio, we wanted to pay tribute to this great director of décollage, able to bring valuable pieces from the street to the museum. We went to look for his places, the intense relationship with his origins, Catanzaro, Naples, Rome, Paris, the American country have become an emotional grand tour. The meeting with Pollock, Rauschenberg, Restany, as stated by Tommaso Trini in the docufilm: “made him an artist similar to a deity who talks about the creation of the world”. From torn posters that he saw around Rome, tears, tears, overlaps came out, according to a continuous filmic gestures, in order to break in order to rebuild, as with film and, later, with digital. As always happens in the cinema, like an actor of great inspiration, Rotella soon became a performer intent on leaving a distinctive mark, so much so that he could put – in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles – his Marilyn alongside those of icon of pop art Andy Warhol. Rotella’s works, like the great films, have an odor. Inimitable. Spectacular. Which brings you back to those moments and crystallizes them into a vast and intimate collective memory. Rotella has revived famous icons of the imaginary with overture and then with an extra-time of the films, Marylin, Elvis, James Bond and Fellini, Superman and Gregory Peck, A Clockwork Orange next to the elegance of Cary Grant, Dirty Dancing at the rhythm of King Kong, Batman and Divorzio all’italiana, advertising posters and La maja desnuda, Gone with the Wind mixed with Sofia Loren, Lolita, Ingrid Bergman, the Indians and the West and Casablanca, Tenera è la notte, Somebody Up There Likes Me. The circus show. Cleopatra, Ragtime, Liz Taylor, Rita Hayworth, Clark Gable, John Wayne, Liza Minnelli, Anita Ekberg, Marcello Mastroianni, Once upon a time in America, the advertising poster, the game, genius and unruliness, the New Dada, the Nouveau Réalisme, the Pop Art, in a marvelous aesthetic and ecstatic research, composed of contradictions, memories, impulses, desires. An Olympian of stars approached the world, to which Rotella has offered new characters, humanizing them, as in Neorealism, unconsciously identifying with the cinema even when he created through the recycling of materials and already existing materials. Versatile and pop author, inventor of phonetic poems, unconventional to the point of being the incipit for “Un Americano a Roma” by Steno, masterfully interpreted by Alberto Sordi. His works are unrepeatable artistic moments, yet covert, like film scenes, in a spell of colors and visions, within an infinite number of possible and impossible worlds.
Rotella was all this, and much more.