Ryan Lombardi, also known by his artistic moniker, Enamel Kingdom, was never a painter. Which, if you take one look at his seemingly effortless fine enamel lines and precise aesthetic, seems far from the truth. But before Lombardi started creating his now widely recognizable compositions of strikingly colorful and intricate animals – koi fish, elephants, tigers – his days were usually consumed by realistic pencil renderings and more commercial graphic designs.
However, Lombardi’s artistic passions began to shift when introduced to graffiti while studying at the Art Institute in Philadelphia.
“I really started to paint when I got into graffiti. I was using what I learned through the graffiti and applying it to my artwork,” says Lombardi. Glimmers of his graffiti background undoubtedly continue to shine through in the level of technique and utter boldness demonstrated in each of his paintings.
“My first job out of school was for Samsonite, the luggage company,” says Lombardi. “There was an Ames near my office that was going out of business. They offered to sell me their whole paint department for $100. I was psyched because it was mostly spray paint, except for the lot of enamels they had as well. One day I just picked up a can of the enamel paint and a paintbrush and started experimenting. I would just use paint; just not let it go to waste. That’s how I started to develop my style and how I cam to only use enamel now.”
Enamel Kingdom’s newest show at Lot F gallery, “Goin Inward,” marks yet another evolution of the artist’s instantly recognizable, but ever evolving body of work. Since having dabbled with sign painting, script, and lettering, the Boston-based painter has expanded his skill set, one that now pays close attention to finite details, unwavering line work and gives each piece a more painterly feel.
“I have been exploring different techniques with the enamel and what I am able to do with the medium,” says Lombardi. “I guess I continue to find new ways that inevitably develop my style. You can see similarities between previous works and this new collection, but these new paintings still have a totally different look to them.”
Lombardi works with a limited color palette, but with the utmost creativity – mixing his own colors – in a way that makes each piece burst with demanding vibrancy. Using salvaged metal objects and most notably smooth, glossed wood panels, Lombardi’s large-scale paintings demand the viewers attention and translate his focus, drive, and genuine aesthetic.
“For this show I chose some exotic wood types and finished them so they were perfect,” says Lombardi. “Instead of the imperfect found objects that I usually use, and that will still be in this show, I wanted to introduce something different, something a little more accessible.”