Synchronicity always elevates the spirit – that feeling of understanding or coincidence you encounter within the beauty of your daily life. For some it’s a tune they hear coming through speakers. For others, it’s bumping into that person. One synchronistic moment for me occurred when I first spotted a certain artwork in an Italian magazine – a work that seemed an exact reflection of the kind of art I make. I had inadvertently “bumped into” the artist Mimmo Rotella. Naturally, when the Nazionale dell’Arte Moderna in Rome announced his retrospective, I was first in line to see it.
When I first moved to Rome, I was immediately fascinated by the simple visual adventure I took each day. From the peeling posters on large panels lining the streets, to faded, crumbling surfaces, there was a raw and incoherent beauty in the forgotten sights – far from the glorious artistic perfections around. As I first started wandering the streets of my adopted city, I passionately studied the fading posters and ripped layers of the ubiquitous advertising panels around the city. I photographed what I saw, calling it the Roman Wall Series. The aesthetic both reflected the style of my artwork and seeped even deeper into it. From the Maps of Time and Rome to my SPQR series, I continue to be inspired by the layers of the city as expressed in these deteriorating urban surfaces.
This is what made me feel so connected to Mimmo Rotella’s work. Juxtaposing popular imagery with color, texture and even typography, Rotella’s mastery was rooted in the same observation and technique that I embrace. There is a certain kindred spirit I feel between Rotella and myself. A wonderful synchronicity that reassured my own vision – almost like a secret community of minds.
While every piece was fascinating in itself, I truly believe what astounded me about Rotella’s retrospective lied not in the individual pieces themselves. What made the show so amazing was the way all the pieces spoke together, creating a feeling of this master’s ideas – an arc of his lifetime of collage and art-making.