The night, quite often comes in Enrico Lombardi's paintings, carrying all the honour of its own mystery. His night is, however, a night where light never completely vanishes, experimenting at most, a reddening of the chromatic hues. One may quite say that a strip lighting or the old spotlight of a black and white film creeps in, with its own making and by surprise, with the clear intention of stating a visual uneasiness, often reaching an unsettling outcome, that of a pictorial making that leaves no sense of peace and quiet but a visual discomfort which is the sign of an existential one.
The artistic making of Lombardi is, by its very nature, restless: he never puts on hold “I think, therefore I am”, that ceaseless thinking which is a declared exercise in his life and actions and that makes his landscapes others than what they appear. Thus, let the viewer be warned: do not surrender to the temptation of dismissing the vision, although precious, of Lombardi's paintings and with an attitude of careless arrogance quickly consider them as belonging to the landscape and veduta genre. Often in his paintings, if not to say always, the entire secret of the vision, the most intimate sense, lies on the title which is never given by chance, but thought out and thoroughly lived in its inner being so far as to taste a sort of inner torment, supreme drive that leads to the action of painting. I would need not to quote Michelangelo here, but needless to say, I will quote him who, as you know, used to state with certainty that «one paints with the brain and not with the hands». Exemplary of this are some of the paintings by Lombardi from the year 2013 contained in the show he called Spiritual Exercises, which says it all about what was meant to be seen, beyond what was apparently declared and when first seen by looking. Lombardi is, in his own way and following his own paths, paths that he has fully developed by himself, on himself and for himself, an esoteric painter who raises trees, supposed cypresses, houses, rocks, mountains, hills, smokestacks and water tanks to the status of secret symbols and lofty shadows that seem ready to be turned into spaceships and missiles for space journeys (take a closer look at the paintings Moloch and Monito contained in this show, both from 2012).
The 'Shadows', that is both the title of this current exhibition and an essential element in Lombardi's visionary poetics, shelter, like treasure chests containing the secret, the otherness which is the only true and authentic intention of recounting what we see under false pretenses. For the sake of the truth and because necessary, allow me to say it once more: if you are able to seriously «enter» one of Lombardi's painting, you will then explore lands that belong more to abstract painting than to real or dream-related places, you will explore territories that belong to that Middle-Earth which is neither figurative nor abstract, but merely pertaining to the matter of painting itself.
Lombardi never surrenders to emotional vibes, persistently attached as he seems to be and truly is, to the aristocratic pride of his out-datedness, he is cold, cruel and merciless when he defines the precision of the personal strokes of the drawing which will successfully depict the coldness of the nights and the low tides, of the faraway lights, signs of lives distant from the scope and the vision. It is like this that he «goes in outside», as he himself has asserted in some of his titles, locating the being of us all in different places, precisely here and elsewhere, up above and down below, inside and outside. Or else, as previously stated, in that Middle-Earth.
And in that patient shadow Lombardi places several keepers and tries to provide them with that needful deed of preserving «traditional», and for many of us, essential treasures: they are the keepers of that ancient or simply eternal wisdom of the thinking, unable to waive itself, keepers of the awareness that the noble territories of the artistic making and creativity have been affected by the many oversights of the present, exactly because the present refuses to surrender to eternity ('Keeper of the eternal present' is the title of a painting from 2011) to which it is, inevitably and by its own nature, consecrated.
We may even assert then that, if time is innocent, then the responsibility is all of the humans. What Lombardi profoundly regrets are all those areas of blindness that intelligence develops, failing that natural and almost sacred vocation that making art owns. Innocence of time from 2009 substantiate this all too clearly, that small spring (that «small fountain» that seems to remind us of an old and melodic song, a figure so many times depicted in many of the paintings from the Keepers series) from where water comes is highly capable of giving a cue for a meditation on the origin of ideas, in a dimension of silence that invades a sphere of traces of human presence and the nature of a serene and pleasant beauty, but with such simple rhythm to stir the same deep feeling one has for a heartfelt prayer of homage or gratitude.
Another gift that Lombardi's art owns is, in fact, that of the declaration of the harmony of silence, a quite daring deed that reminds me of those extraordinary Silent Songs by Valentin Silvestrov, in a full and flagrant oxymora. If silence in music seems impossible, to the contrary it is quite possible in painting (it would be enough to recount the concept of vite silenti -silent lives- so well defined at the time by the poet-prophet Giorgio de Chirico); but the fact that silence could be so full of sacred harmony is a homage of awareness we all owe to Enrico Lombardi, an awareness achieved through pictorial intelligence and a careful use of synesthesia. And thus, as in Yevgeny Baratynsky, one of the poets of Silent Songs by Valentin Silvestrov, harmony owns the power to heal the sick souls, Lombardi's pictorial making is a healthy cure capable of moving from the action of looking to that of feeling.
Arnaldo Romani Brizzi
Translated by Angela Lombardi