really missing Mark Lombardi

I came late to Jerry Salz's beautiful tribute to Mark Lombardi last month in the Village Voice, having pulled it off my reading stack only this weekend, but Saltz's paean and his regret for our loss of this wonderful artist has probably gained even more profundity with the passage of even these few weeks. Lombardi hanged himself in his Williamsburg loft March 22, 2000.

Needless to say, our post-9-11 age would have been Lombardi's glory days. I don't mean this lightly. We need him. It's heartbreaking that he isn't here to help diagram everything that has happened lately.
Saltz's memorial was inspired by the incredible show then hanging in Joe Amrhein's iconic gallery, Pierogi 2000, in Williamsburg.
Lombardi is more than a conceptualist or political artist. He's a sorcerer whose drawings are crypto-mystical talismans or visual exorcisms meant to immobilize enemies, tap secret knowledge, summon power, and expose demons. The demons Lombardi concerned himself with, however, weren't otherworldly. He was after real people who were either hiding in plain sight or who had managed to fade into the woodwork. Lombardi was on a mission: He wanted to right wrongs by revealing them. Instead of critiquing the system, like so many contemporary conceptualists, or journeying to other psychic dimensions like shamans, Lombardi assumed the personas of the grand inquisitor, the private investigator, and the lone reporter. He followed the money.

I loved the way his mind worked. But it was his wildly suspicious imagination and his maniacal attention to and ultra-distrust of the status quo that made me think Lombardi was ill-starred. He was a rangy, whimsical, articulate guy, prone to fidgetiness and discomfiture, and if you asked him anything about his work, you'd get a way too detailed answer. But these garrulous explanations always came with a crooked smile and an expectant look that seemed to say, "I know this is strange, but it's all true."

Thanks Mark, Joe, and Jerry

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Published on June 21, 2003 3:39 PM.

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