Independent Curators International


Mark Lombardi (1951–2000) has been compared to Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta-Clark, in terms of the conceptual power of his work and its widespread influence. His drawings are visual narratives of the way money flows in our post-imperial, trans-national economy: from corporations to political organizations, from individuals to various ad hoc groups, most of them acting outside of national boundaries—and often outside the law. Using graphite and red pencil, and information culled from newspaper accounts, television, and other sources in the public domain, Lombardi developed a new type of history painting that maps the economic underpinnings of our global society. New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman described these drawings as “delicate spider webs of scandal” that “can be seen as a metaphor for the elusiveness of truth that was Lombardi’s subject.”

Lombardi's work attains almost prophetic significance in today's current political and economic climate. “At some point in my development,” he wrote, “I began to reject reductivist approaches in favor of one capable of evoking the complexity, venality, and occasional brutality of the times.” Charting patterns of exchange in the new global networks that have until now evaded visual description, the drawings' dryly lyrical lines are dashed, dotted, or continuous, signifying different kinds of clandestine financial connections. Each work has an almost musical quality, where density of (trans)action is indicated by clusters of lines and marks, visually punctuating the sheets of paper like carefully placed musical notations.

This retrospective consists of twenty-five of Lombardi's works, beginning with a prescient piece from 1984 and then moving to the period 1994–2000; most of them are from the last three years of the artist's life. The exhibition includes several monumental drawings—as large as 54 x 140 inches—and part of the archive of several thousand index cards on which Lombardi recorded his research. It is accompanied by a videotaped interview from 1997, and an illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by curator Robert Hobbs, the Rhoda Thalhimer Endowed Chair of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University.