2002 - Alessandro Riva

Alessandro Riva, Enrico Lombardi o la perversione dello spazio, in Lo spazio ritrovato, exhibition catalogue, Bologna 2002

There is a metaphor of which Enrico Lombardi is fond, and which often returns, almost subterraneously, like an invisible thread which it is nevertheless impossible to disregard, in his work and in his writings. It is that of remaining separate. Remaining separate from himself, from his own apparent, outer identity (that of a painter of landscapes, of an as it were “classical” painter, or rather a “primitive” in the literal sense of the word, in any case a-contemporary, leaning toward the 14th century). And in the end remaining separate even from his own work of painting tout court: as if the artist felt the inner, inevitable, ordained need to step back from himself and from his work—to treat, that is, his work as a painter (the one who gets his hands dirty, who works with colors and with light, as painters have always done and have always known how to do) as an exercise; indeed, not so much as an exercise as a challenge, at once intellectual and visual, seductive in its apparent simplicity and outward attractiveness and vaguely disquieting in the complexity of the conceptual and compositional framework that supports it (houses that come out of other houses that seem in their turn to give birth to yet more houses, geometries of light that are born out of shadows and of shadows that contain light within them. And then arches that do not separate an outside from an inside but an outside from another outside that is equal to and different from itself, factories that imitate churches and churches that imitate factories and so on, in a mad crescendo of references that jump around and intersect, and of geometries that appear to be pursuing the crazy structure of fractal geometry rather than that of Euclidean geometry). A framework, therefore, that is at once seductive and unpleasant, at times even repellent owing to its double or triple or quadruple nature, certainly insidious, abstrusely and deliberately Machiavellian, Escherian. It is as if we were faced with a strange trap of the sight, a visual paradox, a pictorial and linguistic game that marries vision and intellect, architecture and reason, and that while it utilizes the language of painting, its internal codes, its historical and compositional references, also has to do, in a manner as profound as it is latent, with the themes and references typical of contemporary debate: from the one on the place and the non-place to those on the real and the virtual, on the intrusiveness and self-referentiality of images and on the loss of the distinction between reality and fiction.