December 2009, D. Dominick Lombardi @ The Housatonic Museum of Art

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 internationally renowned art critic, curator, artist, writer, art historian, poet, and lecturer. He holds an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1975), and a Ph.D. in contemporary art history from the School of Education, New York University (1978). Dr. Morgan lives in New York, where he lectures at the School of Visual Arts and is Adjunct Professor in the graduate fine arts department at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. He is Professor Emeritus in Art History from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

 

Photo: Babak Mehrbany Irany

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