Following recent shows featuring the late Charles Waller and Montauk’s Artists Association, The Lucore Art gallery in Montauk held a reception on Saturday, April 15 for its latest exhibition, Endangered Species with works by East Hampton native Peter Ngo and Montauker Lori Campbell.
Open through April 25, the show offers a compelling exploration of surrealist works approached from two very different creative minds, but the undeniable connections between them were not lost on gallerist Chris Lucore, who put the pair together.
“Peter was somebody who I was interested in working with, and Lori was somebody I worked with before — I had a show with her last year,” Lucore says. “I just thought that it would make for an interesting contrast. Lori has these creatures that she makes that are familiar … they’ve got this sort of Dr. Seuss fun-ness to them, like a light,” the gallerist says, adding, “Peter’s stuff is really moody, there’s a lot of emotion in there.”
Lucore explains that while both artists create surreal work, he was excited by their differences. “I just thought it would make for an interesting contrast. The thing that unites them is they both have wild imaginations, it’s really just a show of everything that’s going on in their heads,” he says of the whimsical and visually arresting range of work.
Peter Ngo Discusses Endangered Species
“He just thought of the two of us, with mine being a little more dark or spooky, and hers on the lighter side but very dreamlike in a sense,” Ngo says, sharing his admiration for Campbell’s colorful paintings depicting furry creatures formed from all manner of object and tactile material, “Hers are more fun and wild abstract pieces, and the colors are very vibrant,” he continues.
Ngo’s oils feature ethereal and often mythic women along with a wide array of imagery, including plants and animals, space and astronomical bodies, wind energy turbines and much more — all coming together in beautifully arranged compositions complete with looser mark making that stands out from his finely rendered realism.
The artist recently returned to painting after years shooting mostly photographs of beautiful, tattooed women.
As a painter, Ngo says his style is evolving. The paint itself is more expressive than before, “not as technical and illustrative — that’s what I’m trying to steer away from,” he says, also noting that Campbell’s powerful paintings have inspired him to create in a larger scale.
“Lori’s pieces are like 5 feet by 6 feet, they’re massive compared to my 24 x 30 (inch) pieces, so I’m starting to work bigger,” he says. “Picture my pieces at her scale — how much more impactful that would be.”
When asked about elements like the hummingbird hovering dangerously close to a Venus flytrap in “Another Dimension,” or a sci-fi astronaut surrounded by fire in “Supernova,” Ngo says, “The whole series is called Endangered Species and (it’s about) how we as humans are taking and consuming from the planet without regard. … It’s incorporating humans, what we’ve destroyed, and so on and so forth.”
Lucore says he’s pleased with Endangered Species and Ngo’s work, which he’s exhibiting for the first time, besides putting up one piece in the last holiday show.
“He’s amazingly talented. The more time I spend in here with the pieces, the more you see in them. … I don’t know how he gets so fine — it’s hard to believe they’re oil paintings,” Lucore marvels, adding, “He worked his ass off to get ready for this show. … I probably told him about the show a month and a half before we opened and there’s like 5 or 6 paintings that he knocked out in that month and a half that are just incredible. … For Peter to have done this in a month is really unheard of.”
Ngo also had high praise for Lucore. “I think he’s an amazing, young, emerging gallery owner, and I think he’s going to do wonders with building up the community — not just the community in an art sense, but just showing what’s out there and not sticking to one specific type or medium,” the artist says. “He’s literally showing everybody, all styles — sculptures to abstract, to surreal — everything. He’s phenomenal. The nicest, and a phenomenal artist also.”
Endangered Species is on view through April 25. A portion of all sales from this exhibition will benefit Montauk Community Garden.