Rocco Ronchi, La Cornice, in Lo sguardo, exhibition catalogue, Bologna 2000
The architrave of masonry, which on Lombardi’s canvas makes the symmetry of a landscape explode, is no less a frame than is the modest rectangle of wood which delimits the figure. The frame that materially encloses the picture is in fact already a replica of the invisible threshold that every representation of the world presupposes. It is already its simulacrum. Thus in Lombardi the whole construction of the picture, all the way from the frame to the skillful composition of planes that cannot be fitted together, is revealed to be a complex conceptual (and linguistic) operation that has nothing to do with supposed semantic or evocative values. It is a question of bringing into expression what, without being visibile as such, ushers in the visibility of the world. Thus painting is an exercise of memory, but of a transcendental memory: memory of the threshold, of its fertile nothingness, memory of what in the meaning expressed—houses, cypresses, arches—is cancelled, persisting solely as the disturbing trace of a past that has never been present. Lombardi’s places are all simulacra of this original void. This is why they can never be identified. Their abstraction is definitive. Just as when you experience a sense of déjà-vu, these pictures give you the disturbed impression of a resemblance without referent. They appear to be of the past, but of the past in general, without a date. There is no point trying to find out any more from their author. He will tell you that the only reality of the place is linguistic: “I don’t know if I have really seen it or if I just imagined it; if I remember it because I saw it or invented it, if I just dreamed it or if I desired it, if it is the memory of a dream or of a desire. I don’t even know whether there is any real difference between these places: all of them exist only in language. And their reality lies precisely in the reality of the language" (E. Lombardi, from Quaderno ottavo).