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Mimmo Rotella (Catanzaro 1918 - Milan 2006)

Mimmo Rotella was born in Catanzaro in 1918. He studied in Naples before moving to Rome in 1945. In the post-war years he forged ties with the young members of the Art Club, exhibiting works of geometric abstraction with them on various occasions. At the time his style was close to Neo-Concrete art, as seen in his first solo show held in Rome in 1951.
He later moved to the United States, where he devoted himself to a form of art infused with futurist and Dadaist phonetic poetry, which Rotella christened “epistaltic” poetry: a mix of invented words, sounds, noises and onomatopoeias. Back in Italy, he distanced himself from his early painting, towards which now he now harboured feelings of doubt and vexation. In 1954 he came up with the technique of Décollage, part collage from the Cubist tradition and part poetics of the objet trouvé – another leftover from the avant-garde movement, which would be recovered afterwards by American New Dada. This was how he began ripping advertisements off the walls of the city and recomposing the lacerations in his studio onto canvas.
In 1958 he met Pierre Restany, a French critic who enlisted him in the ranks of the Nouveaux Réalistes group that he promoted and with which Rotella exhibited throughout Europe. He moved to Paris where his innate experimentalism was not confined to Décollage: from the 1960s to the 1980s, he developed ever-new contaminations of painting using photographic and printing techniques, the new solutions of “Mec-Art”, “Art-typo”, and finally of the “Blanks”, works in which he covered old posters with blank paper.
In 1980 he moved to Milan, where he died in 2006.

Fabrizio D'Amico