1994 - Umberto Fiori

Umberto Fiori, Lo sgombero e le figure, in Castelli d’Acqua, exhibition catalogue, Milan 1994

Seeing it so irremediably corrupted, imperfect, I felt great pity for the world. And yet I also felt something opposite, even stronger, even more clear, emerging from the scene; something that addressed me with a vertical, absolute familiarity. It was the cistern that crops up repeatedly in these pictures by Enrico Lombardi. It was, I mean to say, the promise that the world lets us see. The one that passed under my eyes was hardly ever visible; but in the midst of all this jumble, underneath this tremendous assortment—I felt—was hidden something else: the figures were hidden. For they are what holds everything together. They are rare, the figures. It is no use racking your brains and trying to invent some; however clever you may be, nothing will come of it. Nothing will be seen. Reproduced, transcribed, colored, copied, the world will remain invisible, as it always does. A figure is not made: it is found, recognized and welcomed. Like this cistern: it’s clear that Lombardi has seen it. This is the first thing that caught my eye, that touched me immediately. He has seen it, and I too—thanks to him—have seen it. Then, of course, one can recognize it as a symbol, can think of it as an angel or totem, a mushroom, an abnormal and solitary phallus, a temple, a tower (I am reminded of Leopardi, The Dominating Thought) or—as the title puts it—a “water tower.” But the fact is that Lombardi’s cistern—singular and plural, very real and dreamed—has been seen. This gives me hope, and consoles me.