2012 - Matteo Zattoni

"Low tide" -exhibition "Low tide" - Piacenza 2012
Low Tide

Too much has already been written and said, now it is time for silence. This is what the new series of paintings "Low Tide" by Enrico Lombardi seems to say, actually pretend, penalty the exclusion from their secret: the receding of water. What is it then that actually recedes? Everything and only what is superfluous, that liquid and shapeless mass that is Modernity according to Bauman. This is the reason to decline forms, or better, mistrust their supremacy. What is hardly left on the canvas is the basics: the houses, of course, but also the rocks and further down a horizon, finally. The horizon is an event, something that rises above all pretexts and contains them all, regimenting them. It was very unlikely to have this line represented in Lombardi's early production, that of "Dangerous Mirrors" and absolute black, it might have been longed for a while though, as the landscape was slowly bursting out in his paintings. Because a horizon is, first of all, the nostalgia of a horizon, the remaining chance of an opening into those forms we never really and completely believed in. Only at this time of day, in the breath that comes before total darkness, we can discern some lights along this horizon: may they be the proof of a life, although assigned to the background? Do not raise any hopes, on the contrary, the landscape seems to have witnessed an Εξαφάνιση, a collective and relentless disappearance, as if the observer were thrown in a world right after a mysterious pandemic or a cataclysm we are doomed not to understand. Men have disappeared and we are left to wonder if they may have even been there and thus if they have ever done something that deserves a trace. Probably not, Lombardi seems to suggest, probably we are not fundamental. And so, Requiem for the anthropic principle, already shaky since Copernicus and Galileo, and now buried, once and for all, under the uninhabited landscape. The only license are those faraway lights, aligned like cannons, the same lights Drogo sees (or thinks of seeing) from the Bastian Fortress, of someone we are waiting for and who might come, but only too late. Nonetheless, an enemy. We must surrender, men have run away and leaving the houses behind like in the Pompeii eruption, they have given nature back to its neat chaos. Here we are not waiting for places to be once again inhabited and the artist seems to say that he is perfectly fine with that. The virus has been defeated, it has played its only chance of goodness and resistance and it has lost. In this reality, that man thought was created according to his needs, the self becomes, all of a sudden, immense and out of proportion and there is no more space left for him. And so, each house is guarded by itself and Baudrillard's objects, after having broken the system, they have overpowered their very creators, freeing themselves at the expense of man. No revenge has ever been so undeniable; while the man was involved in the desertification of the earth, objects have overthrown him, they have literally sucked life out of him. Some fountains, from an earlier series of paintings by Lombardi, included in a show called "The patience of the shadow" from 2011, come to mind, where a trickle of water runs ceaselessly without quenching nobody's thirst, or at least, no men, and so, it gets lost or rejoins, depending on the perspective, becoming one with its own reflection.

In addition to the painting which gives the title to this show and which undoubtedly indicates a new artistic research for the author, there are nine other paintings and to some of them, if not all, we must refer in the attempt to focus the salient features of the period that "Low Tide" opens. We must, firstly, single out the problematic relationship between identity and repetition, according to Deleuze. Using this reading key, we can unearth that the two buildings in the painting "The quietness of the double" is in fact one, doubled, nonetheless, a different distance and collocation in space, causes in the spectator, at first, the surety of being in front of a new identity. The mechanism of simulation and antinomy, so healthy in this idea of ‘painting’, is also at the base of "The paradox of coldness", here, the contrast between warm hues and icy lights mortify our certainties about the landscape. Such confusion, nonetheless, is not for the sake of itself. That is, it is not a mere rebus, but it fulfills a mission, that is to let the enigmatic element of the original simulacrum emerge from which, then, a simulated identity will be produced. According to Lombardi, in order to obtain this gnosiological aim, it is mandatory to cause in the observers the defeat of all illusions regarding their perceptive skills: only by violating the laziness of the eye, it is possible to let the man come out of his stereotype, through a process of destruction-reconstruction of reality. It is somehow noteworthy that this skepticism, almost pessimism, on reality as a univocal concept, as well as on our possibilities to draw from it with the tools and categories that have been given to us by education, refers to the results of the binding and by now, practically classic research by Berger and Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality. If it were not for the fact that in Lombardi what is unknowable takes on itself an almost anti-metaphysical connotation (the Kantian νοούμενoνkantiano), thus his choice of a nameless, gloomy hue, which seems to suggest the idea of wanting to take the color away from its very definition. It is the same disquieting feeling one has in front of some of Schiele’s portraits or certain spurious skin nuances. Somewhere else the hues change and become almost like mustard, as in the third version of "Coming-in in the outside", or else, they take on the colors of the "Resurrection" by Piero della Francesca, in the case of "Posthumous Resurrection" thus, since posthumous, a useless resurrection, nonetheless, the lights are still imponderable, the shadows absolutely not naturalistic, but contents and perspectives are still, at least, contradictory. So, in the landscapes by the painter from Meldola, everything is left in a timeless or prehistoric suspension in which the instant-infinite reigns. In other words, if the realm of metaphysics is precluded to us, what we have left to investigate is φύσις), nature in which a privileged space is taken by the mystery of death (θάνατος) even when it is constantly rejected and postponed in a sort of object-hibernation. And yet, even without the presence of man, nothing is dead, even the rocks owe a zoomorphic consistency and surround the houses, as if to suggest, in their plastic embrace a protective, almost motherly gesture, or else, promise a lethal trap, a hidden threat. In other paintings like "The return of the day" and, even more clearly, in "The sin of the threshold" we find once again one the most treasured subject matters for Lombardi, the threshold, with all its psychoanalytic-esoteric and poetic implications. In the former, it refers to the sphere of the ’ἜΡΩΣ, the opposite pole of ΘΆΝΑΤΟΣ: to go beyond the threshold, to enter an inward space is always a titanic gesture, almost nearing arrogance, whether it aims to the conquer, as in Nietzsche, the unknown or draw us nearer the eternal feminine. Often the elements in a landscape reshape a round form around a breach that reminds us of the ancient symbol of the ouroboros, depicting a serpent eating its own tail and suggesting that, beyond the threshold the cyclic nature of the existing, will begin again. If, as Heraclitus stated, ΠΆΝΤΑ ῬΕΙ͂, everything goes by, it is also true that everything comes back. Thus, the threshold cannot be represented, but it is given to us as a border that opens onto other thresholds, it is simply in its concrete immanence. To this end, but poetically speaking, it is mandatory to mention the following quotes from "In the Threshold’s Lure" by Yves Bonnefoy, in which the great master invites us to keep on knocking "At the door, which is sealed, at the sentence, empty”. It is exactly because of this that Lombardi can call himself "outdated", not simply because he has dried the surface from the superfluous water of Modernity and thus from its fashions and trends - appropriation, anachronism - but mainly for his idiosyncrasy toward extravagance, the irresponsible and uncritical use of the act of painting as well as the words that so often come with it. That of Lombardi is a painful essentiality, pursued from Celine's great inheritance; there, each and every single poetic word was hard-fought and violently torn from a previous silence, here, it is every single brushstroke. The holocaust of words is, primarily, in the crumbling of the Enlightenment certainty that meaning can be communicated, that a sort of encyclopedia of the meaning exists. Nowadays, we are also faced by the fact that meaning itself has been homologated, ready for use and easily shareable, thanks to the decisive impetus of technology and mass (non)-culture. Thus, bottom line, every grunt is credible and enters the circuit as an annoying white noise which messes the reception of what little of authenticity is still left. Accumulation as a new sort of censorship, as Eco would call it. To the contrary, in Lombardi's ‘painting' each residual fragment of meaning is renegotiated moment by moment against the offences struck by the livings, against the illusion of artistic serial production, against the hemorrhage of words so much weakened as to humiliate them. In the obvious that reshapes itself in the image, after having reached this awareness, there is the uncanny. And so, as it happens in the verses of the poems "Atemwende" (Breathturn) written in the persecutor's idiom, nothing will be left but "To stand in the shadow of the wound-memorial in the air". And we seem to hear the author say, or better pretend, that it is finally time for silence.

Matteo Zattoni 2012

Translation Angela Lombardi