by Uri Dowbenko
Mark Lombardi: Global (Conspiracy) Networks
Mapping criminal corporate-government connections
is a dangerous occupation. Exposing the players and
their front companies is even more hazardous. These
are the subjects of Mark Lombardi's art -- the hidden
global realities of money and power. His artwork,
literally as well as figuratively, connects the dots
of international high-level white-collar crime
Lombardi's drawings are mandalas of conspiracy,
flow charts of shady deals and shaky agents, and org
charts of world-class con men, revealing the genealogy
of wickedness in the highest places of corporate and
"Mark Lombardi: Global Networks" is a traveling
exhibition of 25 drawings, some as large as 4' x 12,’
organized by New York-based Independent Curators
International (ICI) and curated by Robert Hobbs of
Virginia Commonwealth University. In graphic terms,
the drawings document the major financial and
political frauds of the late 20th century. They are
flow charts of illicit money and power, solid and
dotted lines and curves as well as broken arrows
denoting the flows of illicit financial operations and
DECONSTRUCTING CRIMINAL CONNECTIONS
One of the drawings called "George W. Bush, Harken
Energy and Jackson Stephens, ca 1979-90" (1999) shows
the connections of James Bath, a former CIA spook and
business broker, front man for Saudi money who
connected the Bush Family and Bin Laden Family (of
the Osama bin Laden/ 9-11 legend) in shady deals in
Texas and around the world.
Other drawings document the Savings and Loan (S&L)
Frauds, IraqGate Fraud (illicit sales of nuclear and
biological weapons to Iraqi kingpin Saddam Hussein
with a $5 billion US Government-guaranteed phony
“agricultural loan” through the Banca Nazionale de
Lavoro), Iran Contra Fraud, and the Clinton/ Jackson
Lombardi was an artist and an archivist, not an
investigative reporter; he simply used available
material from books and newspaper articles (from the
public record) for the information “content” of his
Viewing his art (mostly un-inked pencil drawings)
requires the ability to 1/ see the graphics, 2/ read
the names of people and corporate fronts, and then 3/
integrate this content of networks into an epiphany
about How the Real World Works.
Historically, of course, the Harken Stock Fraud
made George W. Bush his first serious chunk of money.
It should be also noted that Bath, a former cokehead
pal of George Jr., was also connected with the
notorious Bank of Credit and Commerce International
Lombardi's web-like drawings show the decentralized
nature of the networks of crime and flows of global
capital. The key is a multitude of front companies,
which add layers of complexity to the conspiracies
Allegedly diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic
depression), Lombardi supposedly died from suicide (or
was suicided) in 1999 -- after two successful solo
shows and just as his career was about to go to the
It should also be noted that Jim Hatfield, author
of "Fortunate Son," (Soft Skull Press), a biography of
George W. Bush, which alleged that George Bush Jr. was
convicted in Texas on cocaine charges, until his
record disappeared from the court system, was also
found dead by suicide in an Oklahoma motel.
ADDING A REAL WORLD CONTEXT TO ART
Artist Mark Lombardi (1951-2000), whose business
card ironically read "Death Defying Acts of Art and
Conspiracy," was found dead in his studio, officially
declared a suicide in the police report. Or as
government whistleblower Al Martin, author of "The
Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider"
(http://www.almartinraw.com) says, "The guy put
together one chart too many."
Martin was retained by attorney Frank Rubino,
defense counsel for Panamanian strongman Antonio
Noriega, to produce a chart for the courtroom, which
would explain the complex relationships between
individuals and offshore companies, etc. The 5’ x 9’
chart was topped off by a color photo of former
president George Herbert Walker Bush and Antonio
Noriega embracing one another, both giving a victory
sign to the camera. It should be noted that US troops
under George Bush invaded Panama, then hijacked
Noriega to Florida, where he was convicted of drug
charges. Noriega is still in prison to this day.
"When they set up this chart in the courtroom, the
judge said, what's that? We had Bush connected to this
drug operation," recalls Martin.
Martin says that later CIA operative Frank Snepp
joined the defense team (Rubino himself was a former
CIA agent) and gave daily reports to George Bush Sr.
on how the trial against Noriega was proceeding.
Martin says he overheard him on the phone talking to
Bush in Rubino's office.
"I was real naive," says Martin about his
participation in the Noriega trial. "I made the
assumption that this is what they wanted" -- to have a
flow chart of personnel, covert operations, as well as
banks and other front companies and how the schemes
actually worked. Martin notes that they didn’t really
expect him to use the real names of people and front
"Investigative reporter Dave Lyons from the Miami
Herald told me this is what people can understand,"
Martin continues. "Graphs and charts help the average
person understand complex conspiracies
Martin jokingly concludes, "Charts and graphs --
bad. Shredders – good."
MAKING POLITICALLY INCORRECT ART
In a video of the artist shown at the exhibition,
Andy Mann asked Lombard in February 1997, “Do you fear
for your life?”
Lombardi didn’t answer the question. Instead he
said, “This is a way I can map the political and
social terrain in which I live.”
According to his friends, Lombardi told them that
he was being followed -- just before his death.
Lombardi also described his work as “visualized
fields of information [which] started out as corporate
In the end, Mark Lombardi’s contribution to culture
is his relentless search for the truth. He was a
pioneer in the cartography of realpolitik, mapping
international networks of crime which include
high-level government officials and shady so-called
Lombardi’s legacy is his depiction of geo-political
realities, the essence of global criminal
conspiracies. No theory, just conspiracy –-
conspiracies that continue to haunt the planet into
the 21st century.
Copyright © 2003 Uri Dowbenko. All Rights Reserved.
* Uri Dowbenko is an artist and media analyst. His
"Bushwhacked: Inside Stories of True Conspiracy"
is available at Borders and Barnes & Noble stores
His email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Lombardi: Global Networks Exhibition Itinerary
The Drawing Center
New York, New York
November 1 – December 18, 2003
Falconer Gallery, Grinnell College
May 28 – August 1, 2004
Art Gallery of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario Canada
September 10 – December 5, 2004
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
San Francisco, California
January – April 2005
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