Today’s Work on Monday delves into an iconic image by East Hampton photographer and painter Peter Ngo. His photograph, “Double Barrel,” features Ngo‘s winning formula of a beautiful woman in a nostalgic and moody East End locale, while also presenting shining example of the artist’s narrative skill.
Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.
Peter Ngo (East Hampton, born 1980)
Medium format digital photograph
Varied sizes, 2012
While clearly in the realm of fashion and beauty, Ngo‘s photograph tells a story beyond style editorial. In “Double Barrel,” his young model stands at the end of a long waterfront drive at the decaying and empty Lazy Point Fish Farm in Napeague. She is holding a shotgun and wears a ruffled dress and small shoes that somehow harken back to a bygone time. This is not the Hamptons most know and love, or love to hate. Ngo‘s vision goes somewhere beyond beaches and bonfires and bathing beauties in bikinis.
The rugged driveway and broken fence speak more to the Depression Era photographs of Dorothea Lange than the “Montauk” images of Michael Dweck, an artist who some might consider a more likely comparison. Both men delve into nostalgia and sensuous nymphs on the East End, but “Double Barrel,” like many of Ngo‘s photographs, displays an edge, perhaps even angst or pain, not present in the other’s (also lovely) work.
Ngo‘s picture leaves the viewer with questions that satisfy and spark the imagination. There is a deeper narrative, something more like the stories of Denis Johnson, Thom Jones or Raymond Carver, albeit wearing makeup and a pretty dress.
As a good photograph should, “Double Barrel” tells enough of the story, while not giving away everything. What is this farm? Who is this girl, and why is she armed and alone in such a desolate place?
It’s hard to say.
Even Ngo may not have the answers, but isn’t good art about the joy and the mystery of asking?
Peter Ngo‘s work has been featured at various galleries and publications in the Hamptons, including the Silas Marder Gallery in Bridgehampton and Outeast Gallery in Montauk. Find him on Facebook to learn more about him and his photographs.