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Gallerist Deven Golden describes how Lombardi began creating these works:[He was] talking to a friend of his, a lawyer, in California.Mark was telling him about a couple of banks that had closed in Texas, and the lawyer said, “Yeah, and because of that, these Savings and Loans closed in California.” And his friend proceeded to tell him how a series of byzantine corporate connections tied the various financial institutions together.After a careful review of the literature I then condense the essential points into an assortment of notations and other brief statements of fact, out of which an image begins to emerge.
The head-scratching story is difficult to believe—but even harder to tell if you have to rely only on words in a newspaper article instead of an image such as this one.
The actual piece is 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall; here we have a detail of one small section.
Further down the line, this company was eventually sold to individuals with connections to the Bush family, with George W.
himself receiving millions of dollars in stock in spite of the venture’s obvious failure.
Starting with Al Capone at the left, it follows the network of his associates and how their activities evolved from bootlegging to racketeering and gambling, and also as they expanded their reach into other major cities with more gambling, prostitution, and money laundering.
Many of the reviews of Mark’s work frequently reference “conspiracy,” though this seems a disservice brought by articles like this one that prominently feature conspiracy in their titles or as a central theme.Every statement of fact and connection depicted in the work is true and based on information culled entirely from the public record. 1970–84” is part of a series of works that relate the story of a global banking conglomerate thought to have a role in the Colombian drug trade and money laundering of drug money.In another drawing, Lombardi created a timeline, moving left to right, covering fifty years of organized crime in Chicago.Lombardi’s image lays bare the complexity of the story, making it accessible even to an audience with neither the inclination nor the mental capacity to understand such a mess.In his artist statement for a show in the late ‘90s, Mark described his work as follows: In 1994 I began a series of drawings I refer to as “narrative structures.” Most were executed in graphite or pen and ink on paper. I call them “narrative structures” because each consists of a network of lines and notations which are meant to convey a story, typically about a recent event of interest to me, like the collapse of a large international bank, trading company, or investment house.In those days, he received .7 million from about 50 different family members to start an energy company.The company did poorly, posting enormous losses, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.A conspiracy theory usually implies the work of a naïve crank with an agenda, and a subjectivity that seems thankfully absent from Mark’s work.Lombardi himself made light of the notion, printing “Death-defying acts of Art and Conspiracy” on his business card. I think we’re only beginning to appreciate why Lombardi’s work is important.It was very convoluted, and so Mark made some notes — he obviously was predisposed to thinking about this sort of thing. do the crossword puzzle in their studios to help them clear their minds. The diagrams were more visually interesting than his paintings.As Mark told it to me, it was kind of like how some artists . Anyway, every couple of days, after going over his notes and diagrams, he would call his friend back and ask him more questions, which would lead him to make more diagrams. And, perhaps just as importantly, they pulled together everything Mark was interested in — drawing, social/commercial interactions and their hierarchies, and politics — into a single pursuit.