Fossil is a term of paleontology. It comes from the Latin fodere (to dig) and shows the remains of past life (leaves, pollen, shells, bones, eggs, and more) that are embedded, fossilized in fact, in sedimentary rocks.

     There's the closest thing to death. So much so that in common parlance the compliment you're a fossil is for those who don’t reach to live in their own time.



     Why, then, Michele Dolz paints living fossils? What interests him are not the living fossils as such, so called from Darwin, that is the bodies or creatures - like, say, the opossum - who keep living still maintaining the primitive characters, or who belong to since long time extinct groups. No, Dolz is just interested to contrast ancient and contemporary, the absence of life and life.



     In the space of the canvas he draws a shape that pulsates, throbs, breathes and which stands out on the background, wiggles out of the grip of matter. The fossil in nature is trapped in the rock, but in the painting of Dolz is free instead. It clings to the surface like a madrepore, but swells, opens, rises like a living creature.

    In terms of stile we could talk, in these works, of an informal language that dialogues with the form. Or, rather, a form that keeps the wealth of suggestions of the informal language, that’s to say the vitality of the matter, the freedom and immediacy of the sign, the emotions and the instinct of the gesture, but the discipline to suggest a profile, a shape, a drawing - a shape, in fact, even if magmatic like clay or glass paste still warm.

      And this alive form, rather living form, is often that of a fish or a moth. You do not need to remember the symbolic, evangelical meaning of fish. The moth appears to us as something light, volatile, yet accurate, with one wing, two antennas, a membrane. It is a moth sui generis, which has nothing of the ornamental arabesques of Art Nouveau, but rather remember the verses of Dante's Purgatory: «Do ye not comprehend that we are worms / born to form the angelic butterfly / flying to judgment without screen?»


     What do the Dolz’s living fossils suggest, then? First, the persistence of the past, which is the last thing that we know less. It seems also to be taught by the etymology: «past», from passus, which in turn derives from pandere, to deploy, to announce, suggests the idea that the past is not so much something that is finished, that is just past and no longer exists, as something that turned out to be completely in front of us - a source of knowledge.

The same concept is taught even by religion. If we look at things from a point of view not natural but supernatural, the past is not ash, but part of God's plan. St. Joseph is not a Jewish carpenter who died two thousand years ago, but he is a saint that you can invoke, to whom you can speak with a conversation more alive than with your next door neighbor, who may not even know who he is.

     Dolz then suggests a different notion of time, and therefore of existence. Also the colors that prefer the ranges of the ochres or mineral whites teach us that everything is pervaded by light. Even what seemed archaic, fossilized in fact. Because as Carolux Rex said, quoted by Pound - «Sunt lumina OMNIA. All things that are, are lights».

Elena Pontiggia