Using oil paint as his primary medium and the human figure as his primary subject, Francesco Lombardo creates work that involves repetition, movement, and layers of translucent form. His artistic influences from the past are rooted in the linear elegance of the High Renaissance, the serene yet compelling postures of classical sculpture, and the folds within folds of Baroque art. In terms of contemporary influences, Francesco references many artists including the works of Jenny Saville, Robert Liberace, and Odd Nerdrum.
Lombardo completed training in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, receiving his B.A. in painting in 2002. Shortly thereafter he studied with the painter Odd Nerdrum in Norway for half a year. In 2004 he found long-lasting influence in the otherworldly allure of Iceland after being awarded a Fulbright to study there for one year.
Color blindness is a complication that Lombardo must take into account when painting. His eyes struggle to discern various reds and greens but are compensated in this deficiency by an advanced ability to discern value (light and dark.) He does not want the issue of color blindness to have much, if any, impact on how his work is regarded. The choice to value an aesthetic defined more by complex spatial interactions and movement rather than application of hue has little to do with genetics, and the partiality towards design, subject matter, and aesthetics in general have been guiding factors themselves more than they have been reactive to problems caused by color blindness.
His paintings have been on display at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. as part of the 2010 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Lombardo’s portrait “Monique” was featured in the publication Art in America (2011-2012 annual gallery/museum guide). Francesco lives in Marshall, North Carolina, where he works from a studio located on Blanahassett Island.
"The Baroque and the effect of pentimenti are two important sources that influence my artistic style. The aspect of Baroque art that I draw from most heavily is the intentional use of dynamic folds to be found in the clothing of both painted and sculpted figures. French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze wrote that "[Baroque] folds of clothing acquire an autonomy and fullness that are not simply decorative effects. They convey the intensity of a spiritual force…" I found this to be true upon my first viewing of Bernini’s Ecstasy of St. Teressa, and I’ve employed this aesthetic in combination with pentimenti to convey a similar sensation of spiritual force that is unique to my own work. The marriage of these two influences are part of what make up the style I am currently exploring.
My goal has been to instill in the viewer a sensation of abundant spirit, to impart vitality, whether in the form of euphoric rapture or brooding struggle. Within the last several years I’ve been inspired to direct these sensations towards a greater sense of contemporary relevance, without losing any timeless quality the work currently has. The wide ranging implications that humanity faces as it approaches a major technological crossroads have captivated me. My new goals retain many of my past drives, but I’m now driven to build a more thorough conceptual relationship with the rapidly changing landscape that we all face as many of our foundational beliefs are questioned with the potentials of gene therapy, machine learning, 3d printing, and nanotechnology.
I’ve chosen to direct the focus of my paintings towards the creation of a new way of being, and after looking back on ancient societies I’ve decided to create my own modern day sibyls, figures that were sought out for answers in times of uncertainty. With my past aesthetic of movement and no certain center, I will continue to shape this idea in my future work, trying to create an image that can offer solace without offering the single perspective comfort of an unchanging world." - Francesco Lombardo