Dive Into Another Reality


Since the 30s of last century, Gillo Dorfles has been capturing on canvas and paper an imaginary and supernatural world in which a number of fascinatingly complex and fantastical beings appear in a surreal and metaphysical space. Robots, curious cybernauts, elephants and slugs, insects and bats, anchorites and moon men, fallen angels and Cyclops flagellants and jugglers are all ushered in to a mysterious, hermetic inner world.

This rudimentary/antiquated world appeared with three biomorphic forms that the young Dorfles had already sketched on a sheet of paper with ink in 1930 – three beings/shapes emerging from a black background whose expressive forms and extremities emanate an enigmatic and fascinating vitality. Like antenna directed into space (stretched out), they appear as if they want to seize the balance of powers and tensions that dominate life.

These typical creatures, indicative of Gillo Dorfles’ artistic expression, originated from unconscious observations in his youth as young Dorfles observed similar images in drawings created by his father who, during breaks in his training as a marine engineer, enjoyed sketching.

Since the 80s, the colours produced in the works of Gillo Dorfles have been more precise. Through pleasant compositions the colour tones emerge mutually intensified with greater contrast and distinction. The artist uses colour to call to life various beings in twisted and tangled shapes and to interpret reality in an imaginative and symbolic way.

Dorfles is very familiar with colour mixing techniques. His hallmark is his particular sensitivity for the psychological significance of each individual shade, which together with his first class colour prints elevates the pathos of his paintings. It is his unique gift, the one that sets him apart and exemplifies the expressiveness of his images. In an earlier article, Dorfles commented on Goethe’s famous theory of colours: “In his theory of colours, Goethe talks about warm and cool colours. Often enough he is not only referring to the colours visible to our scope of sight, but he is also analysing the precise properties of the colours in their entirety.

“The colors can also awake emotions like joy”, he writes. “Blue, for example, appears alkaline. Red-yellow appears acidic.” This intimate awareness of things and nature is one of the fundamental traits/ features/ characteristics of Goethe’s thought process (…) Goethe understood that the naturalist observation of things is connected with their artistic essence/substance (…) and that there is something more hidden within the concept of nature than just the physical appearance of things. He saw the spirit bringing the body and the landscapes to life and realized that everything is natural, even that which appears unnatural and abstract.” (G.Dorfles, “Goethe. A Great Designer. (Goethe. Un grande disegnatore)“, from “The Plastic Arts (Le arti plastiche)”, X, 12, 16 January 1933, P.6.)

Dorfles’ artistic body of work, „justifies its raison d’être with intimate necessity through a kind of expression that allows the pictures to flow from memory to a visible and enjoyable language that references conscious and unconscious expression”, explains Dorfles himself.

“That’s why my painting was always guided by a pictorial-sculptural model removed from all rational and any constructivism distinguished itself from rationality and constructivism.”(In T. Sauvage, , Italian Painting from the Postwar Period (Pittura italiana del dopoguerra) (1945-1957), Schwarz, Milano, 1957, p. 320)

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Gillo Dorfles


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