The expression Homo Faber, […] captures andJohann Rupert
exalts the immeasurable creativity of man.
If Dady Orsi’s intellectual nature leads him to create a pure poetics of images, on the other hand, he fully embodies the figure of Homo Faber. In this second guise he transforms himself into an Artifex. Orsi’s craftsmanship expresses his desire to produce his own engravings and a very limited group of objects for his home – unique artefacts, sometimes the result of chance finds, not aimed at mass reproduction. Experimentalism is a trait that unites him with the culture of design. Orsi lived in the golden age of Milanese design, where he was in contact with Bruno Munari as well as Piero Fornasetti, while in the field of glass he had significant relations with Pietro Chiesa of FontanaArte and with Fulvio Bianconi. While his love of decoration, symbols and fantasy are all aspects that bind him deeply to his friend Fornasetti, what distinguishes them is their style: intimist and pictorial Orsi, more imaginative and graphic Fornasetti. Orsi knows that beauty is achieved through knowledge and love of materials: wood (from woodcut plates and painted branches to the boards of tables and furniture), iron for structures and sculptures, zinc, linoleum, the plastics of printing plates, textiles, paper, glues, inks, glass in sheets or shaped tiles. The relationship with these materials is always marked in equal measure by a solid knowledge of technique and a playful sense of experimentation and free manipulation. The ars combinatoria is based on his youthful experiences in the field of stage design. The applied arts require an attitude from Artifex that the Pictor does not have, that of collaboration. Of particular interest and intensity is the collaboration with his wife Megy Bassi: the execution of the axonometric maps of Italian cities are the result of work shared over several years. The two also produced prints and textile objects together.
I love theatre and I am a painter.Marc Chagall
I believe that theatre and painting are a love marriage.
Although the relationship between Dady Orsi’s theatre and art is not exactly a marriage, it could be compared to one of those youthful loves, whose experience and intensity leave significant traces throughout life. If the encounter with the world of theatre (in particular with Grassi, Parenti, Treccani and Testori) took place at the end of the 1930s, the works of which sketches are still preserved date back to the 1940s. Set designs are an area of Orsi’s artistic craftsmanship about which little is known. Although no photographic documentation has yet been found of the outcome of their realisation on the stage, the sketches show how the scenes were conceived in a very spartan manner, given the historical moment of general scarcity, as simple panels and wings, with a hint of simple furnishing elements easily available from the cloakroom. To convey the expressive content and overcoming the poverty of the structures, the author uses strong, contrasting colour fields or large striped motifs.
In sculpture, what counts is the the harmonious occupation of space […].Fausto Melotti
In the production of applied art objects Dandy Orsi shows a predilection for certain materials: black iron, wood, transparent glass and fabric. In this sense, the artist is part of a debate on the distinction between Art and Design that is typical of those years. Orsi does not share this dichotomy and likes to move in borderline territory. Wood is the material of a series of ready-made sculptures entitled Alluvional Sculptures. Created in the early 1950s, these works are wooden fragments transported and shaped by the currents, carried along the shore of Lake Maggiore. Once they have been collected and left to dry, Orsi decorates them with paintings, using a deliberately playful and childlike method. If the shape of the branches gives a glimpse of an animal, for example, the painting intervenes to make this image slightly more explicit. Orsi’s furniture is also made by reusing old wooden artefacts already marked by time, to which a structure is added, and a new function given. The perception of a piece of furniture is also changed by its decoration: pieces of furniture such as L’ARMADIO CIVETTA, or screens take on a scenographic quality thanks to the decorations, rich in pictorial suggestions and trompe l’oeil effects. Black iron is the other material Orsi uses both in sculpture-assemblage and to build furniture structures. Glass is a different matter, a material with which the artist has always had a special relationship. The glass objects called Dalles, or glass tiles, which are thicker than sheets, are shaped and painted under glass. The Dalles are unique objects in the glass art of the time.
The graphic image […] is no longer merely a meansTerisio Pignatti
a means of achieving poetic expression,
but is often even the poetic expression itself.
The knowledge of processes, materials and techniques of art printing belongs to the sphere of craftsmanship. Since the 1960s, Dady Orsi has devoted himself to printing with assiduity following the purchase of an antique press and a reel, which allows him not to depend on a workshop. The antiquity of the press, together with the choice of fine papers, which are also often vintage, gives the prints an evocative patina. Orsi practices intaglio, etching and drypoint, linocut, lithography and zincography. His knowledge of engraving and printing techniques led him to experiment, in the mid-1970s, with the creation of plastic matrices used for a special technique combining lithography and monotype. The lines of the drawing are fixed in the matrix, while the colours are a pictorial intervention operated on the matrix by his wife Megy Bassi: this inking is a real pictorial work that varies with each copy of the print run. Using this technique, the Orsi-Bassi couple created the series of monotype lithographs known as Simultanei. This is a very large series of lithographs in which erotic scenes and animals predominate. Inspired by Greek and Roman art, the erotic scenes have a mythical and playful character. Even the animals are symbolic, coming from an intellectual and fabulous imagination, never reproduced from life. Orsi’s animalier sources are to be found in art and scientific illustration of Enlightenment origin. His encyclopedic curiosity led him to discover bizarre animals, monstrous insects, amphibians and tortoises. The animals of this period, with their decorative linearity, also appear in works of applied art. A fundamental corollary of the printing craft was the creation of art books. In the Milan of Fornasetti and Scheiwiller, the art book was not complete without one or more etchings to make it precious, and Orsi was immersed in this culture. An example of these etching books is the so-called Insectarium, whose images are inspired by ancient naturalistic illustrations.