The new portrait exhibit by Jack Ceglic at Amagansett’s Ille Art is an interesting one. The reasons are subtle and require careful observation. Moreover, it’s important to know that the artist is involved in other art endeavors, including architecture and home furnishings. Additionally, Ceglic started Dean & DeLuca (the “primary foodie haven”) along with his partner. Even so, can we possibly compare all his interests and find common bonds? We think we can. First, Ceglic’s focus on diverse textures is common with his products at Dean & DeLuca; his East Hampton home and interior furniture also provide a variety of styles and textures, including works designed by Eero Saarinen. Materials, like Victorian wicker and those included in an antique Louis XVI armchair, also evoke myriad senses. The point is this: There’s an arresting articulation of aesthetic qualities at work in Ceglic’s living space.
The same could apply to Ceglic’s present portraits. On the surface, the full-length figures seem filled with energy and vitality, a variety of men and women, young and old, affluent and not so affluent. But another look shows other traits that give the images more definition: their state-of-mind and world view, for example. The positioning of their arms, legs and even shoes add to their personal attributes and gives additional credence to the artist’s articulation.
Consider that small things mean a lot in the artist’s execution. There’s an image of a woman who appears “normal” at first glance, but then we notice that her eyes are slightly cross-eyed, her arms hanging from her body in a self-conscious way, her head leaning to one side. In a word, she seems uncomfortable (which is not so unusual), but Ceglic captures something more, and we want to know what that is. Her flip-flops somehow seem important. Conversely, an older woman, dressed in a chic black top with short grey hair and high heels, seems confident and affluent. Her hands are folded in front of her, a dead giveaway that she likes her life.
Another image of a man sitting, one arm bent, the other resting on his thigh, is casual and comfortable as well. And chic. A young girl, leg bent and lips pursed, seems ready to jog around the block. She’s aggressive, sure of herself and someone who will be successful in life. Then there’s an older man, bald and standing sideways, who is not looking straight into the viewer’s eyes like the other figures. One hand is in his pocket, a sign of being comfortable, too, but he also appears stern and not entirely satisfied with his life. A woman with her hair in a bun and wearing long pants stands with two arms on her hips, a sure sign of her no-nonsense attitude.
Such specific descriptions of the artist’s figures demonstrate that non-verbal elements are important: clothing, posture, stance, eye contact, gestures. (Some other non-verbal aspects certainly play a part in Ceglic’s home furnishings, too, like material and color.) This art critic believes that non-verbal qualities in portraits make or break the work. Embroidery pieces by Christa Maiwaldalso use texture, facial expressions and posture to create defining moments in the life of Maiwald’s subjects. The same is true for Ceglic.
Jack Ceglic’s portraits will be on view at Ille Arts in Amagansett, 216A Main Street, until Aug. 19, 2013; 631-905-9894, illearts.com.
CORRECTION: The work shown in the July 19 Art Commentary at the LongHouse Reserve was not that of Jack Youngerman.