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Gino Rossi

( Venezia 1884 - Treviso 1947 )


    Gino Rossi

    Luigi Rossi, known as Gino, was born in Venice in 1884 into a wealthy family. His father was in fact the factor of Count Enrico Carlo di Borbone, who owned Ca’ Vendramin Calergi in those years, where he set up a collection of oriental art that the artist probably visited.

    Gino Rossi obtained a good education between Florence and Venice, but at some point abandoned his studies to devote himself to painting. He followed the lessons of Vladimi Schereschewsky, a Russian painter settled in Venice who produced works with a strong social flavour.

    Between Fauves colours and Gauguin’s linearism

    Little is known about the artist’s early years, but there is reliable evidence of a trip he made to Paris in 1907 with Arturo Martini. When the painter was in the Ville Lumière, he immediately became associated with Medardo Rosso, and was fascinated by the painting of Cézanne, the colours of the Fauves and the two-dimensionality and symbolism of the Nabis. However, he took the figure of Paul Gauguin as his reference point. In 1909 he undertook a journey to retrace the painter’s places in Brittany, as many of the titles of his works testify. This fascination for Gauguin would also translate into his painting, with the introduction of strong contours and a palette that lit up to the limits of expressionism.

    In the same years, he came into contact with Nino Barbantini who was in charge of exhibitions at Ca’ Pesaro, where the painter would exhibit for several years.

    Burano: his Brittany

    On his return from France, Gino Rossi settled in Burano, which was to become what Brittany was for Gauguin: a great source of inspiration and serenity. He bonded with some expressionist artists who were members of the so-called ‘Burano School’ such as Luigi Scopinich, Umberto Moggioli and Pio Semeghini.

    Between 1912 and 1914, he travelled to Paris several times where he also exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and deepened his knowledge of Cézanne’s art. In 1914 he participated in the first Roman Secession Exhibition with several works: Good Fishing, Nocturne, The Flower (Girl from Brittany), The Port of Douarneney, The Brute, Description and Landscape.

    The bewilderment and psychological torment

    From here on, a very dark period begins for the painter. He is left by his wife and this fact will also be exorcised through painting and this will lead to a great stylistic change: colour fades away, Fauves chromatism gives way to more muted colours, and even line gradually loses importance. The artist also took the decision to leave Burano, to move to Ciano sul Montello, to Treviso and then to Noventa Padana.

    His sense of bewilderment and torment worsened further with the outbreak of the First World War, as he was also taken prisoner in Germany during the war.

    His artistic production will never be the same again, his painting becomes more restless and his strokes are purely Cézannean. The colour evolves into darker, harsher tones and the volumetries become increasingly cubist.

    The war and family disappointments shake Gino Rossi and his mental health to the core. From 1925 until his death in 1947, he spent the years going from one asylum to another, without finding a solution to his state of mind.

    Exhibition success and the major retrospective in 1948

    Before being interned, he participated in several national exhibitions. In 1921, we find him present at the Regional Exhibition in Treviso with Attraction, Landscape (Navy), Landscape (Summer), Still Life, Drawing. In the same year he took part in the Contemporary Italian Art Exhibition in Milan with L’orto del convento (Convent Vegetable Garden), Paesaggio (Landscape), Fanciulla Bretone (Breton Girl), Paese (Country) and Ritratto fotografico dell’artista (Photographic Portrait of the Artist). In 1922 he exhibited three works entitled Compositions at the Treviso Art Exhibition, reflecting the research of Cézanne and Cubism. In 1924, he participated in the same exhibition with Coloured Drawing, Still Life Construction and Still Life Composition.

    The painter was also invited to exhibit at two editions of the Venice Biennale; in 1926 he participated with Bruges and Composition; and in 1928 with Still Life Construction I and Still Life Construction II. The Venice Biennale also dedicated an important retrospective exhibition to him in 1948 with fifty works, including: La petite paroisse, Procession, La fanciulla del fiore, Mestizia, La buona pesca, Colline in Bretagna, Case a Burano, Pescatore dal berretto verde, Paesaggio Asolano, Il bevitore, Foglie e fiori, Il Santo di Padova, Prà della valle, Composizione and Fanciulla che legge.

    All the themes dearest to the artist are shown in this retrospective: the journey to Brittany to discover Gauguin; Burano, the place of his soul; and the life of fishermen, humble men who inspired him by their simplicity and genuineness.

    He had also held a solo exhibition in 1933 at the Mostra del Sindacato Fascista (Fascist Union Exhibition) in Treviso with the exhibition of forty works including: Maternity, Breton Country, Still Life, Evening Poem, Figure of a Seated Woman, The Domes of the Saint, The Old Fisherman, The Man with the Canary, Rest, Asolo Landscape, Douarnenes, Head of a Girl and Landscape.

    In his numerous and tormented works, the artist went from pure, anti-naturalistic colour fields enclosed in a Gauguinian cloisoinnées, to Art Nouveau decorative sinuosities, to a tortuous expressionism heir to the art of Van Gogh.

    Emanuela Di Vivona


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