Emilio Giuseppe Dossena.
Excerpts of the opening speech of the Emilio Giuseppe Dossena's
exhibition at the National Arts Club
...The artist's path is clearly represented by the order of the paintings, which are
presented here in chronological sequence. The reasons for such developments are not so
The artist emigrated at 65 to the USA. In New York he did not have the opportunity to go
outside and paint, except in rare occasions. Therefore he found himself trapped in close
environments. This prompted him to search for a simplification and intensification of the
forms of expression, achieving new rhythms and colorfulness. He used colors in the
orchestration of chromatic harmonies which helped express what he had seen and felt, in an
equilibrium of forms and content not influenced by philosophical concepts or Romanticism.
The expression determined the form; the colors and the form themselves proceeded to be the
repositories of the pictorial idea.
Starting as a neo-impressionist, painting his impressions of the reality he perceived,
Dossena had a mild palette, reflecting his shyness even through his works. You can detect
that in his early works, up to the late 1940's. Hues of browns, terra di siena and
burgundy pervade his paintings. Did he see existence as tedious and assuasive? Was his
life lacking the stimuli to leap into the colorful world of nature? Not so. He was a happy
father of six children, working incessantly to give his family the necessities of life.
His palette was the result of pure observation and a bit of influence left by his Academy
Even though he retained his stylistic choices and provided the necessary restraints and
control to his compositions, he acquired a more vivid palette in the course of the 1950s,
also because of the changes in the society around him and the newfound possibility to
The basic myth of modernism, inherited from before the war, is one of revolt against what
is established and recognized. Eventually, though, the economic aspect reinforces the
stylistic one and some kind of compromise is reached. Emilio Giuseppe Dossena never
revolted, just created what he believed in, and did not allow the economic aspect to
influence his work. He achieved this by earning his living as a restorer of paintings and
He did not consent to the system swallowing his art by making him a product, creating a
package and promoting him as such. Purely commercial considerations never encouraged him
to standardize his product or to move forward by dramatic leaps regardless of his artistic
feelings. When he embraced neo-expressionism, he did so by a natural evolution which was
caused by the influence of New York City.
He reproduced instantaneously and without falsification whatever it was that drove him to
paint. There was no schematicism, no repetition; the form exemplifying the artist's
experience transformed constantly.
The later works of the seventies, specially the series of small sized paintings, may be
considered non-figurative, although they do contain cyphers of natural objects. In the
treatment of the human form the artist moved toward simplification. The form is wrestled
away from nature, so that his art becomes the dominance and interpretation of nature. We
can find in these works a rhythmical, deliberate network of colors applied in heavy,
suffered strokes which evoke in their final form an aggregate of living movement.
On his return to Italy, his works slowly embraced post-impressionism, but his palette,
influenced by the expressionist experience, retained the stronger coloring. His capacity
for experience, heightened by the American period of residence, grew further and his
feelings were given visual forms in brilliant, radiant colors. You can observe this in
particular in the last painting that he painted, number 35, depicting my son William at
Emilio Giuseppe Dossena was a true artist and as his son and the editorial director for
L'Idea I am proud to offer this tribute to his works.