Mimmo Rotella

La diva, 1963
Photo emulsion on canvas
120 x 90 cm
47 1/4 x 35 3/8 in
Signed on the lower right on recto: “Rotella/63”
Signed on the upper right on verso: “Rotella”

€ 220,000.00


La diva, 1963 is an early example of the use of photographic reproduction on canvas within Mimmo Rotella’s practice, a technique which he begun working with in 1963 in a quest for mechanical painting and that can be considered a natural progression – or rather, reversal, of his creative, layering processes of décollage. He still uses posters and proofs in these works, which become even more objective in forming the artist’s iconography of the present. The procedure, which he calls reportage, involves choosing images, photographing them, projecting the blown-up negatives onto a canvas chemically treated with photographic emulsion to fix the image and when required, colouring. Reportage doesn’t just refer to the technique – namely, the multi-stage transferral of images from one medium to another – it comments on the content of the works, bringing to the fore the artist’s interest in exploring communication and media. The deriving photo emulsions are indeed recordings of contemporary events and their media dissemination, at once communicating and commemorating the images they capture. They play between temporal dimensions; speaking of something contemporary to the making of the work, of the reality of a document appropriated by the artist and through whose gesture is already blurring into memory.

The world of cinema – and especially the movies directed by Federico Fellini alongside Hollywood classics and their divas – are subject of several of Rotella’s photo emulsions. The canvas La diva, 1963 combines both Rotella’s interest in cinema, its iconography and advertisement. As image source, the artist photographed and reproduced a fragment of an original film poster, advertising the 1962 Federico Fellini comedy Boccaccio 70. Taking centre stage in the work is the figure of actress Anita Ekberg, famous for her role as Sylvia in Fellini’s most acclaimed production La dolce vita. In Boccaccio 70, the actress plays the role of herself, a diva who at the climax of her success becomes the face of a provocative marketing campaign for milk. Enraged by the increasing circulation of sexually explicit advertisement imagery around Rome, the pious Dr. Antonio Mazzuolo becomes haunted by hallucinations of Ekberg, whose large-scale billboard has been placed close to his residency. The image appropriated for Rotella’s photo emulsion is taken from a central scene of the film’s episode, when Mazzuolo’s obsession with Ekberg peaks.