mark lombardi

silent partners
20 november - 11 january 1999


Flash Art

Mark Lombardi

Mark Lombardi started drawing his first political diagrams in the early 90s while talking on the phone to a friend about the savings and loan scandal in the USA. Having roots in abstract painting, Lombardi realized that these casual notations were capable of containing complex information and have evolved into what he now calls "narrative structures."

"Silent Partners," his first solo exhibition in New York, shows eight works, ranging from rough sketches to sharp line drawings. Entering Lombardi's universe the viewer is confronted with elaborate schemes of complex political interdependencies. Because of lines and arcs connecting circles which carry the names of institutions and individual players, they look like celestial maps. Working from syndicated news stories and other published reports, Lombardi compiles and transforms vast amounts of financial and historical data into his drawings, which at times consist of hundreds of notations juxtaposed and woven into a single, unified strand or image. The investigated scandals cover affairs from all over the world ranging from stories about the Pope and the Vatican bank to Bill Clinton and the Little Rock affair. Without an explanatory legend it takes the viewer a while to discover - behind the seductive, clean look of the images - that solid lines represent the movement of influence, dotted lines the movement of assets, and that bankruptcy, death and court judgments are written in red. What emerges then is a study of irregular financial transactions, undertaken in secret by select groups of influential yet silent partners.

There is revisionist history, and then there is setting the record straight. In one artistic gesture, Lombardi uncovers the complexity and occasional brutality of our times - the puzzle of scandal and political intrigue. (5/99)




The New York Times

Mark Lombardi
'Silent Partners'

It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but in the tradition of the painter's painter, Mark Lombardi is an investigative reporter's Conceptual artist. His subject is conspiracy and scandal, his method is to "follow the money." His pursuit results in big airy line drawings that exemplify Conceptual art's propensity for diagrams, masses of information and showing how the world works.

Initially an abstract painter, Mr. Lombardi, 48, became inspired by a doodled diagram that he made one day in the early 1990s while talking to a banker friend about the savings and loan scandal. He was soon charting the complex matrices of personal and professional relationships, conflict of interest, malfeasance and fraud uncovered by investigations into the major financial and political scandals of the day; to keep facts and sources straight, he created a handwritten database that now includes around 12,000 3-by-5-inch cards.

Mr. Lombardi's first solo show in New York includes eight works, both rough sketches and highly finished drawings measuring as much as 10 feet across. Their subjects range from various subplots of the savings and loan scandal (on of them involving Neil Bush, a son of former President George Bush) to the Banca Nazionale de Lavoro scandal in Italy to Whitewater, the latter charted in a drawing that moves from Vincent Foster's suicide on the right to General Sukarno on the left.

The dominant motifs are time lines festooned with exuberant arcs that connect the names of each scandal's leading players, institutions and corporations.

The repeating arcs create an oddly tufted sense of pictoral space, resembling architectural renderings of fanciful geodesic domes as well as constellation charts or abstracted flowers. They might be called frothy, if their subjects weren't so serious.

An explanatory legend would help: it turns out that solid lines represent the movement of influence; dotted lines, the movement of assets; wavy lines, frozen assets. Final denouements - court judgment, bankruptcy or death - are written in red.

But if not always intelligible to the viewer, Mr. Lombardi's work makes scandal look appealing and deceptively orderly while suggesting that the truth will out, much of the time. (12/25/98)








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pierogi 2000 is an innovative art gallery in williamsburg, brooklyn, new york