Dining with Mimmo Rotella

Posted: August 28th, 2023

Mimmo Rotella was one of the great exponents of pop art and dare I say it, in a strange way a founding father of street art. Why do I suggest that? Because he made his art as collages out of ripped and torn advertising posters. He was fascinated by the deconstruction of language and with his love of cinema and advertising posters he found a way to create his own visual language. He would find beauty in image after image being stuck one over the other. Typography, film stars, music legends all create a playful mix that creates images of beauty and power.

I was once lucky enough to have lunch with him when he was working with a friend of mine on an exhibition. Several people were invited including Sir Peter Blake and the lunch was convivial and rather fluid as far as I was concerned. Rotella was charming and towards the end of the meal stood up and began to recite some of his phonetic poetry, a deconstruction of language as we know it. It was full of words, sounds, whistles and noises but obviously his own constructed language, thought through and created by Rotella. It felt as if he was relaying an event that had happened to him and a musicality accompanied every line. It was playful and imaginative and felt like a true artist “happening”.

I don’t come across Rotella’s work too often these days and I have had several works that I regret having let go but recently a beautiful silkscreen, “If” appeared and it is now available here. He is one of the greats and I will always remember the time I listened to him perform at close quarters. A charming and wonderful artist and if you don’t know much about him this will get you started!