D. Dominick Lombardi, Boy with Clubbed Foot (Potato Eyes), 2006, Charcoal on museum board, 20" X 16"
D. Dominick Lombardi's Post-Apocalyptic Tattoo (2009)
The Housatonic Museum of Art
Housatonic Museum of Art
900 Lafayette Blvd.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Who needs newsprint when we all got skin? Who needs cartoons when we all got tattoos? And who needs purple and orange biceps when we already got miserable armpits and sagging six-pack tummies? Rummy-tummy -- I heard myself say upon witnessing the phosphorescent glamour of D. Dominick's Lombardi's comic extravaganza!
How about those cartoon/tattoo characters: Exotic Dancer with Tumor? Boy with Clubfoot (Potato Eyes)? And the heraldic Twister? You can put 'em on pages, scarred skin, warped pedestals, or museum walls. You can put the text in the image or the image in the text. Some of us learned to read that way. I learned with Classics Illustrated and Little Lulu -- I wonder how Lombardi learned? However he learned -- he's still doing it,
The basics still matter. It all about what catches your attention. Cartoons and Tattoos do that, even after their meltdown. And there's plenty of meltdown in his show at the Housatonic Museum of Art in Bridgeport!
While the style of these post-apocalyptic tattoos lends itself to a type of primal reading, the visual forms become something else -- in effect, painting and sculpture. When I see the 3-D pieces, I think of Sci-Fi Dada Hans Arp, and when I see the rambling curlicue lines on the faces of Lombardi's 2-D Romanesque imps, pulsating with electric sadistic color, I scream out loud -- "Mother, May I?"
In fact, the artist's comic book signature is ever-present throughout the show. His characters are pervasive, demonic, and absurdly funny. Somehow they remind me of the Beat generation -- of William Seward Burroughs and Gregory Corso, if only these guys had Photo Shop to play with. Lombardi's radioactive Blueboy is magnifique, and Fragment #11 goes for the gullet. Super Man/Boy Surfer is literally a kick, and Johnny Two-Heads -- well, apparently he's gone the stretch to become "a misogynistic gossip-hound." The Shrunken Head series reels, roars, and rocks "in the hands of an artist," as Lombardi tells us. And the Truffler melts downward into porous gluttony, glittering beneath his snout and cat paws.
In addition to these gargoyles, Lombardi writes poems that accompany his effervescent pictorial faux-narrative. The verse appears in a publication that accompanies the exhibition. Here's an excerpt from one of them, fiendishly titled, Shrunken Heads:
They decorate, commemorate, illuminate.
How would you like to be remembered?
Place your order with the best --
Johnny Two Heads will do you right.
Probably somewhere down deep in our Collective Unconscious, seething to come out is the secular truth of these characters, wedged between Plato's Republic and Freud's polymorphous perversity! I think that's what D. Dominick Lombardi means, if he means anything at all. I think he does. And he's driven to make us laugh, especially at our most unsuspecting fears, just when we think we're on top of it.
Robert C. Morgan is an artist, scholar, poet, teacher, and author. Considered an authority on early Conceptual Art, Dr. Morgan has lectured widely, written literally hundreds of critical essays (translated into twenty languages), published several books, and curated numerous exhibitions. In 1992, he was appointed as the first critic-in-residence at Art Omi International Artists Residency, where in 2016, he was honored as Critic Emeritus. In 1999, he was awarded the first ARCALE prize in International Art Criticism in Salamanca (Spain), and the same year served on the UNESCO jury at the 48th Biennale di Venezia. In 2002, he gave the keynote speech in the House of Commons, London on the occasion of Shane Cullen’s exhibition celebrating the acceptance of “The Agreement” by the UK. In 2003, Dr. Morgan was appointed Professor Emeritus in art history at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and, in 2005, became a Senior Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Korea. In 2011, he was inducted into the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg; and, in 2016, the Department of Special Collections at the Hesburgh Library, University of Notre Dame, purchased The Robert C, Morgan Collection of Conceptual Art. Much of his work since the late 1990s has focused on art outside the West in the Middle East and East Asia where his books have been translated and published into Farsi (Tehran: Cheshmeh, 2010), Korean (Seoul: JRM, 2007), and Chinese (Beijing: Hebei, 2013). Dr. Morgan has worked extensively in China with contemporary ink artists and has authored many catalogs and monographs on Chinese artists. In addition to his scholarly, he continues a parallel involvement as an artist and abstract painter (since 1970) with a major survey exhibition at Proyectos Monclova in Mexico City (March 23 – April 29, 2017). His work has appeared in numerous exhibitions and is included in several important collections.
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