Six questions to Michele Dolz

DC. The title of the exhibition leaves no doubt, as if to suggest a conversation on the spirit because it is the land of silence that seems to lead directly to interiority. Your response is perhaps a painting close to the borders of interior silence, that transcends the senses themselves.


MD. It is quite true. My paintings do not depict exactly something but they are not even abstract. I see them as a kind of lost stare, the way you look without looking while your mind and emotions are a bit there and a  bit elsewhere.


DC. By your own admission, in the long path of your paintings you have always emphasized the importance of educating and cultivating your sight. Do you consider the sight as one of the main ways to knowledge?


MD. We note that in the five senses, to humans, is sight that is decisive. We think in pictures. And we see through the filter of what we carry inside. So when I speak of educating the sight I mean a general enrichment of man. Familiarity with arts refines you, certainly, but it also works in reverse: one that is beautiful inside captures the profound beauty where one is. The way children look at the world always amazes me.


DC. At the moment you're exploring a two-dimensional form that I would call 'extended' because it not only refers to  perspective illusion, but also generates photographic shots, that is the images produced by the camera, which is perhaps the paradigm of modern visual sensibility. What is your relationship with the photographic image?


MD. As you say, the photographic image has determined our way of seeing reality for over a hundred years. Even today it seems to me that we have a sort of  ‘Photoshop’ in our head that mentally enables us to change visions. This was impossible twenty years ago. What is on my canvases was once a photo at some stage or other, a clipping from a magazine or even a download from the Internet.


DC. Your painting is dynamic, swirling, almost muscular, and yet frozen by a composition that brings balance to the masses on the surface.


MD. I don't have much time to paint, and when I finally get to it I’m so charged that I almost ‘attack’ the canvas. But there is also an explicit reference to gestural painting, from the New York School until Schifano's last phase, through the German Expressionism of the eighties, which I really loved. However I do not feel assimilated to any of these currents, nor to any other.


DC. One could say that your painting is almost writing, in the sense of tracing stubbornly distinct signs on a surface. What is your relationship with the gesture?


MD. I've never followed a calligraphic trend and I just don’t like that kind of painting. Despite meeting some Japanese artists, I was always insensitive to their 'spelling'. Instead I feel deep emotions in front of many of Pollock's paintings – as I have already told you –, the tremendous imprints by Barcelò or, going backwards, to the layers of Rouault, both sacred and  profane. I know and esteem several artists who work on gesture, such as Sam Gabai. It seems to me that the marking, the act of leaving a trace, is profoundly human and has an expressive value in itself, even when it doesn’t purport to represent anything.



DC. You seem to be in need of physical relationship with the canvas surface. A necessity of friction between the bristles impregnated with material-color and the texture of fabric. Do you think these feelings, which I believe to be ancestral, can somehow remind us of the ancient roots of the practice of painting?


MD. That is not for me to say, but for the painted figures in prehistoric caves. The  whole twentieth century has been a kind of reflection on the primitive, which I think is still unfinished. From another point of view, Picasso said he had spent a lifetime learning to paint like a child. I adore Picasso, but I think he never got to paint like a child. His art  is always cerebral in the end. When an artist draws a doodle with the same freshness of a child, that day painting will be reborn.