Magazine article Artforum International

Mimmo Rotella: Cardi Gallery/Robilant + Voena/Galleria Carla Sozzani/Fondazione Marconi

Magazine article Artforum International

Mimmo Rotella: Cardi Gallery/Robilant + Voena/Galleria Carla Sozzani/Fondazione Marconi

Article excerpt

Mimmo Rotella

CARDI GALLERY/ROBILANT + VOENA/GALLERIA CARLA SOZZANI/FONDAZIONE MARCONI

Ten years have passed since the death of Mimmo Rotella, one of the most versatile and revolutionary Italian artists of the second half of the twentieth century. A suite of staggered but overlapping exhibitions at Cardi Gallery, Robilant + Voena, Galleria Carla Sozzani, and Fondazione Marconi celebrate his creativity and relevance, revealing the experimental strategies and techniques that characterized the career of this volcanically inventive practitioner. The works on display at four venues throughout the city delve beyond his celebrated "Decollages" and "Retro d'Affiches" (made with torn advertising posters, some vintage) and include photographic reproductions, "Artypos," frottages, sculptures, "Blanks," and "Sovrapitture" (Overpaintings). These exhibitions--organized in collaboration with the Mimmo Rotella Institute, which has been working to compile the artist's catalogue raisonne since 2012--offer a unique opportunity for viewers to become fully acquainted with the artist's work.

The show at the Cardi Gallery is devoted exclusively to the "Blanks," works that Rotella began making in the early 1980s using outdated advertising posters that he collected around the city of Milan and then covered with monochrome pieces of paper. His action constituted a kind of semi-erasure in which the original image remained partially visible. As is typical for Rotella, the pieces suggest a critical reflection on the mechanisms of mass communication.

Robilant + Voena offered a surprising concentration of a wide range of lesser-known works created between the early '60s and the '90s, beginning with Rotella's "Reportages," for which, in 1963, he began experimenting with techniques of photomechanical reproduction. These pieces, generated by the projection of other images onto photosensitive canvases, are sometimes black-and-white, sometimes chromatically modified, but in all cases entail the creative appropriation of contemporary forms of communication--newspapers, illustrated magazines, television, advertising, and stills from movies. In these works the artist no longer borrowed directly from reality, as in his earlier and more well-known "Decollages" from the '50s, but instead used strategies of invasion and inversion to repurpose preexisting materials and reveal alternate meanings. …

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