He attended the Brera Academy (Milan) and the Scuola del Castello (Milan), where he formed strong friendships with Aligi Sassu, Ernesto Treccani, Guttuso, Domenico Cantatore and Umberto Lilloni. At the Scuola del Castello he won a prize for his sculpture works (a trip to Venice), but his attraction toward color made him choose painting as the medium of artistic communication. Although his tendency toward impressionism was evident from the beginning, the necessity to provide for his family forced him to dedicate only his spare time to this aspect of the arts. He therefore earned his livelihood for many years with the restoration and the decoration of villas and castles, in addition to producing frescoes for the local churches. In the residences of Pirelli, Falck, Borletti, Invernizzi, Necchi, Toscanini, Count Cicogna, Duke Gallarati Scotti, and Count Castelbarco, Emilio Giuseppe Dossena decorated, restored and painted large panels with mythological and archaic themes and battles. His works were also in the Italian Embassy in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, but were destroyed by air raids during WWII. His passion for artistic expression allowed him to retain his creative integrity, and he became a sought after impressionist, known for the sensibility of his works as much as for the dynamic strokes which characterized them. His first solo exhibit, at the Galleria Gavioli in Milan (1943), was a success with the critics and the public, and all of the paintings were purchased by collectors.
The exhibit at the galleria Hoepli in Milan (1964), and the one at the Palazzo dell’Arredamento, in Desio (1967), also achieved a good response, earning a place on the prestigious Enciclopedia dell’Arte (Edizioni SEDA, Milan). Until the mid-1950s, Dossena signed his paintings GDossena (for Giuseppe Dossena), but the signature mutated in E.G.Dossena after that period.
After the artist lost his studio in a fire, he moved in 1968 to Brooklyn, New York, and resided at 54 Cheever Place in Carroll Gardens and was employed by Studio the Berger, restoring works by Renoir, Rembrandt, Picasso and other masters, property of museums and private collections, among which stand out the Metropolitan Museum of New York and the Playboy Club.
In New York, the artist temporarily abandoned his impressionist roots, embracing the neo-expressionism, creating shapes more simplified, almost essential, without any schematism or structural restrictions. The shape is almost snatched from nature, in a continued research to contain and interpret the existential essence and express these new inescapable sensations, which the artist feel away from his country.
The exhibits at the Columbus Citizens Committee (1973) and the Galerie Internationale (1973, 1974) gave unforeseen positive results. Dorothy Hall, art critic of NY Park East magazine, stated: "These are exuberant works in rich, assertive color, dealing with varied subject matter, both abstract and representational. In either case, there's a feeling of nervous energy bursting forth in the artist's treatment of generously flowered fields, butterflies, still lifes and dancing figures …”
Mario Albertazzi, the Il Progresso Italo-Americano art critic, added: "Brilliant colorist, he brings to his canvas the light of nature and the joy of life. His works…are rich in density and at the same time buoyant, restless and gentle as a delicate caress…"
After eight years he returned to Italy, and devoted his time exclusively to painting. He regained his impressionistic tendencies, although with a more aggressive chromatic handling.