Claudio Spadoni, Luoghi del mai, Ischia 1994
For some time Enrico Lombardi has ventured into places of painting that do not countenance diversions. Places, in appe that are perhaps also familiar, or in some way known; like certain cities, certain spaces that in dream seem to us not new, although appearing, at the same time, to be filled with mystery. He calls them “posthumous places,” and the most direct reference is to works of architecture, to gardens, to views frozen in an hour, in a season without time. Or belonging to a different, “other” time, as in the dream, or in certain strange, bewildering associations of the memory. To avoid misunderstandings, however, Lombardi’s painting is not touched by even the shadow of surrealist digressions. These want to be posthumous locations for the affairs of the unconscious as well; affairs that, as we are well aware, have now been turned to every kind of use and abuse. And it is worth making clear straightaway that any other possible references to critical formulas, whether recent or of the past, would clash with the painter’s determination to venture, without the comfort of more or less gratifying company, into these places of his meditation and, at the same time, his obsession. Into these places one goes alone. The vertigo of a way of thinking about painting that contradicts every good rule of the present day, every consideration of a time that finds its reasons already packaged to meet every need and served ready for use, cannot be shared with anyone else. And certain choices are perhaps made forever. These places evoked by Lombardi are places of painting that are never definitively knowable, never totally accessible inside the space of the painting, for anyone like him who decides that it is at once the means and the end of his own research. Painting is the enclosed space, the ideal circle in which everything is inscribed and everything tends to expand, to escape. The more one looks for the center, the ground of those places, the more it is shut up in a space of soundings, of reflections, of analyses that are lucid to the point of being manic, the more it lures the painter toward a mirage even more dense in allusions, refractions, bewildering ambiguities. Lombardi knows this well, and it is in fact the awareness of this choice, indeed of this risk, that makes his work so, apparently, out of date. But an up-to-dateness so obstinately devoted to the facile presentation of the “banal,” to the irredeemable loss of an identity of the individual, does not interest him in the slightest. If everything, by now, falls within the logic of the ready-made, or of a painting that seeks elsewhere its own figures, an identity that has been lost, and indeed sold off at a loss, and the very reasons for a rowdy and humiliated survival, then it is better to play the game with one’s cards on the table. To paint, that is, without masks, without captivating contaminations, in search of a quality that is explicit in its historical premise. Now Lombardi speaks of Fra Angelico, of Piero della Francesca or Domenico Veneziano. He is aware of the danger of citation, of an anachronistic celebration, of a relationship proposed in a time that has destroyed any idea of the continuità of values, any thought of duration. But that, for him, is what is at stake: duration. A thinking about time delivered from the dizzy wear of consumption, from a forgetful becoming, from an intoxication with mass rituals, with collective myths created for a season.