Mimmo Rotella

Venere imperiale, 1966
Artypo on canvas
135 x 96 cm
53 1/8 x 37 3/4 in
Signed on the lower left on recto: “Rotella/66”

€ 170,000.00


With the development of the Artypo technique, motivated by his growing interest in typography (the term combines “art” and “typography”), Mimmo Rotella continued to disrupt and subvert the function of printed advertising posters, by isolating and layering fragments of sfogliacci. Playing with images, modulating them as if in a visual orchestra, the artist gave life to a series of intertwined icons through his compositions of coloured layers.
Demonstrating his own creative use of typographical processes, the artist selected posters amongst those printing proofs typographers would normally discard, which he then either mounted them on canvas or laminated. These proofs – whose function was merely that of warming up printing presses, controlling registers and quality of both colours and images – presented a collection of randomly placed images with areas of overprinting, a superimposition entirely dictated by the element of chance.

For Venere Imperiale (1966) Mimmo Rotella appropriated two film posters; one of the British movie Repulsion (1965) by Roman Polanski and one published for the historical French-Italian film Venere imperiale (1962) by Jean Delannoy. Whilst the romantic imagery of the rose-coloured printing proof from the poster of Venere imperiale – a biopic of Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister Pauline Bonaparte starring Gina Lollobrigida – frames the majority of the work’s surface, a closer look exposes the frightening depiction of Polanski’s film villain. Appearing behind the depicted couple is the darkened face of Michael, from the film Repulsion (1965), who represents the psychological deterioration of the protagonist, Carole. His illustration appears as a demonic presence guarding over Carole, whose figure is vaguely recognisable behind the depiction of the horse on the left. Rotella’s artypo juxtaposes two contrasting films narrating the turbulent lives of two different women.

Mimmo Rotella’s interest in the movie industry as subject matter, and in the use of film posters as artist material had originated in 1953, when he first started ripping advertisement from Rome’s billboards. Throughout the ‘50s and early ‘60s, he utilized a technique known as décollage to create vibrant compositions revealing fragments of torn and layered posters hinting at the films advertised. He then continued to dedicate many artypos and photo emulsions to the medium of the film poster throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s.