press release

The opening of the Catanzaro Art Museum, MARCA, is concurrent with a tribute to the most renown Catanzaro artist: Mimmo Rotella, who died in 2006 at the age of 88. For the first time, a public Italian institution offers an exhibition entirely devoted to his works on metal plates. The exposition, organized by Alberto Fiz with the collaboration of Mimmo Rotella trust, includes a series of large dimension works created between 1980 and 2004. Through these works, the décollage master was able to totally renew his way of communicating. As Alberto Fiz explains in the catalogue: "at the age of seventy, the artist sets the clock's hands back and is still ready to be astonished, as if those thin metal sheets where the posters are hanging were notes on a secret diary that has to be revealed. We can't find the ideological enthusiasm of the beginning any more, but the same desire to interpret the crackling of matter, the anonymous scratching of the road, the signs dragging, the stratified and contingent marks. All this is in harmony with what Rotella declared in 1957: "I could never stand to be the slave of a predictable and obvious art. My research does not rely on aesthetics, but rather on the unforeseen, the same moods of matter. It's like a trumpet, a drum, a saxophone that play on their own. I support the trumpet, the drum, the saxophone." In a sense, the works on metal plates represent a separate cycle where the object becomes the actor of the language renewal. Catanzaro, the city where Rotella was born in 1918, displays some of his most significant works, such as Senza titolo (1981), a six-metres-long monochrome cover and La lezione di anatomia (1987), in which the messages from the street identify a highly transgressive composition and relate Rotella directly to Robert Ruaschenberg and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The MARCA also pays its respect to the masters of Futurism with Formula 1 (1988) and to Giorgio De Chirico with a dummy seen from behind and plunged from Piazze in an urban context. The Rotella universe, so multifaceted and omnidirectional, ranges from Saint Sebastian to circus images, from Elton John to the ice show "Holiday on Ice." Rotella does not simply tear posters from the walls, as he used to do in the 50's, he now takes possession of the urban context from a physical and psychological point of view. He interprets the city as a space on which to act personally. A part from posters, he takes possession of writings on the walls, of any form of signal or any print both casual or not. By doing so, he extends the spatial dimension beyond classic decollage according to a structure where picture and printed poster divide the elements of the composition. On this issue, the work Virus (1987) is really significant: the artist is explicitly inspired by a message written with rage on the wall. In the end, in a global aesthetics scenario Rotella formulate his production as an environmental architecture. Pierre Restany, the theorist of Nuoveau Réalisme, the movement that only Rotella followed among the Italian artists, clearly underlined in 1987 that this was a new turn on the path: "After so many versions of the tear and interpretation of the ripping phenomenology , Mimmo Rotella now offers a new operative concept about the physical intervention on ripped posters. Mimmo Rotella takes the metal plates for city advertising covered in pieces of paper, the memory of previous typographic messages, and stamps the vital mark of urban talk with his graphic intervention. Rotella's graffiti is the mimetic calligraphy of the anonymous city dialogue." In other words, metal plates are the most suitable mean to conquer new spaces in a period of deep changes. The 80's marked the return of painting as a way to recover an historical subjective identity. Here the sign in its persistence claims the annulment of history time and the starting of a linguistic horizontal reality. "For Rotella", says Alberto Fiz, "the plates are the space where ripped posters meet the interferences of a super-exposed and rhapsodic painting. The painting, so casual and anonymous, comes form the desire to disguise itself with the endless stratifications on the metal, which absorbs every trace form in its folds." Superimposed painting and décollage reach their expressive synthesis in the dialogue context of plates where the various elements create a syncopated, oblique and confrontational rhythm. There are sudden explosions of matter, diverting signs in a disarticulated context in which letters and words are engraved on the indelible surface. In its unevenness and irregular rhythm, the plate seems the receptacle of any form of writing and any multi-sensory tangle. In the last chapter of his huge novel about the street started in 1953, Rotella postulates the final derailment of the sign and challenges the globalized society with his plates. The MARCA Museum will devote to Rotella a permanent area especially designed by Alberto Fiz. The institution will plan a series of exhibitions and cultural initiatives aimed at appraising and deepening the research of the Calabria artist.

only in german

Mimmo Rotella. Lamiere (Sheet metal)
Kurator: Alberto Fiz