b. 1915 Venice, Italy
d. 2001 Venice, Italy






NBport2At the age of 61, Narciso Bressanello, a boat builder from Venice, Italy, was suffering from a life-threatening stomach ulcer. For weeks he was forced to rest for the first time in his life. Following an irresistible urge, he began to produce hundreds of large-scale drawings. After a few initial works, he had perfected his style: In a distinctive visual language, Bressanello formed human figures, animals, and buildings in elegant web-like structures of complex shapes. When he proceeded to make a drawing, he never knew in advance what would happen. Without a plan, without touch-ups and corrections he produced large-scale drawings in rapid succession.

In his workshop in the district of Dorsoduro in Venice, where he previously built and repaired boats, he set up his studio. There, every day he drew obsessively. As under duress he recited simple texts in a rhythmic staccato, which he often read from some brochures that lay randomly on his desk, while with great speed and safety his hand swiftly drew automatically to the faltering tone of his voice one image after another.

Bressanello’s topics arise from his immediate life circumstances and his home soil, the island of Burano, transfigured into an oscillating cosmology of colors. There are, as Bressanello explained, birds and fish from the origin of the world with heads on both sides of the body when males and females were not yet separate beings; visions of the brightly painted houses of his native Burano, burning of vibrant webs of color, at times placed inside a giant fish; saints and patriarchs as protectors of mankind woven into a network of life; the bucintoro, the magnificent state barge of the doges of Venice; or the lion, the symbol animal of Venice.

At the beginning, Narciso Bressanello was just a self-taught artist who unexpectedly followed an inexplicable impulse. A neighbor of his quarter suspected a paranormal background. He organized spiritualistic séances in which a spirit guide by the name of Fidelio appeared and identified himself as the originator of the works. Bressanello noticed the manifestation of the spirit with joy and not without pride and accepted henceforth the spiritualist interpretation of his works.



1981 Galleria Bevilacqua La Masa, Venice, Italy



"Narciso Bressanello: Disegnare preghiere." In: Riccardo Bargellini, Marzia Capannolo, Tea Taramino, Sono altro. Sono altrove. Sacro e profano nell’arte irregolare. Valigie Rosse, 2021, pp. 48-53.
Giovetti, Paola, Arte medianica. Pitture e disegni dei sensitivi. Roma: Edizioni Mediterranee, 1982, pp. 137-143.
Pittori dell'Estuario Nord: Galleria Bevilacqua La Masa 10-21 ottobre 1981. Exhibition catalogue. Venezia: Stamperia di Venezia, 1981.

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