Discovering the secrets of the artist who combines Poetry with the language of Sculpture and the magic of light installations, placing the Word as the center of his analysis of the world.
A small golden door in the area of via Macenate, the former location of one of Milan’s main productive districts where there are still giant spaces of industrial archeology to be restored, opens the doors to the extraordinary creative world of the Artist of Light, a pupil of Emilio Vedova, the name by which Marco Nereo Rotelli is known internationally.
Born in Venice in 1955, where he graduated in architecture, a cultured and highly refined artist, able to quote thousands of verses by heart, over the years he elected Milan as his adopted city. Here he created his atelier, first in via Tortona, one of the first to believe in that area, and a few months ago in via Quintiliano where he renovated a gigantic loft.
His atelier is the ideal place to meet Rotelli and immerse yourself in an extraordinary anthology of over 40 years of work, with the unique emotion that only the encounter of an artist in the magical place where his works come to life can give.
As a true bohemian artist, his wandering, curious and bon vivant spirit led him to meet and become friends with two generations of artists, philosophers, poets, musicians; from Alda Merini to Fernanda Pivano, from Lawrence Ferlinghetti to Séamus Heaney.
Ties that have led him to create an expressive unicum in the art scene: combining the visual arts with poetry through the use of the power of the word sublimated with the help of expressive techniques stolen from the language of architecture.
Some of the artist’s most famous works are the Golden Doors, installations in gold leaf and enamel made with doors recovered from abandoned palaces and villas on which contemporary verses are painted, a golden icon of what cannot be lost. Memorable in 2008 in Paris, the work The Golden Wood created with one hundred gold doors placed along the Champs Élysées.
Other famous creations are the Words of Stone, exhibited in Rome at EUR and in Paris at the Mairie du 5e arrondisement, born as an offshoot of the large installation La cava dei poeti: the artist carved the walls of an abandoned Carrara marble quarry with verses of contemporary poets. From this work, Rotelli created the famous Stone Books, concept books that report verses dedicated to people’s identity. In 2011 they become an installation created for the 54th Venice Biennale and in 2019 they were also produced in the colored glass variant created by the Murano glass master Massimiliano Schiavon. Today they “furnish” the living area of some lucky collectors who have commissioned the artist an entire library of books made of glass or precious white marble.
Rotelli’s passion for art blends with interior design as can also be seen from his many works exhibited in convivial places. Like the painting Messages for Humanity, composed of small 20×20 canvases painted with forgotten languages – from Rapa Nui pictograms to Native American symbols – and exhibited in Viviana Varese‘s Michelin-starred restaurant Viva located inside Eataly Milan.
But it is perhaps his neon-art works and the large light installations that have led Rotelli to be known all over the world. Among his top creative performances we can mention in 1996 the one in homage to the La Fenice theater in Venice, just destroyed by a fire, and presented at the Rome Quadriennale; or in 2005 at the 51st Venice Biennale, the one created for the recovery of the island of San Secondo in the Venetian lagoon, for which he was awarded a silver plaque by the Presidency of the Republic or, again, in 2011 in Venice the light installation at Palazzo Ducale which inaugurates the Italian Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition, and in 2017 the great exhibition with Adonis and the light installation at MACRO in Rome, just to name a few.
And after the visit to the atelier? Reserve a table at the Trattoria al Nuovo Macello, one of the artist’s favorite places.
Atelier Marco Nereo Rotelli
Via Quintiliano 24