Honoring the Artist: Ceravolo

This week’s cover by Ceravolo celebrates the Hamptons International Film Festival, with a portrait of Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner. While you may not recognize the image from their 1946 film The Killers, its spirited ambience is, nonetheless, captivating. First, the swishes of color evoke the Festival’s upbeat spirit. Yet these same shapes provide a veil, hiding part of Lancaster’s and Gardner’s faces. That, too, has subtle significance, signifying what lies beneath the Festival’s surface.
Another meaning suggested by the cover relates to Ceravolo’s technique. It is primarily a black-and-white stylized image of the two actors, mirroring the black-and-white movie, The Killers, and its film noir style. Of course, most of Ceravolo’s figures are stylized, whether they be musicians, athletes or movie stars. [expand]
Q: The cover has a great “look.” How would you describe it?
A: It’s a combination of a monochromatic image with an abstract image. I used color and abstract shapes that would compliment the grey realistic image. The portrait creates two layers: realism and illusion.
Q: How did this style evolve?
A: I studied Advertising, Art and Design at Farmington. Figures always played a large part in my work then. I created large realistic images. But I wanted to add another element. In the late 1970s, I did a portrait of Rod Stewart, and that was my first one in my current style. Then I did a portrait of Elton John.
Q: And you were off and running.
A: I said to myself, “Now is the time to see if I can make a living doing this.”
Q: One of your most popular series has featured Hollywood movie couples, particularly “The Embrace Series,” with actors like Lancaster and Gardner and Gable and Lombard. How did you get interested in film?
A: When I was in high school, I made a 16 mm movie with a Bolex. That influenced me.
Q: What artists influenced you?
A: I was inspired by Chuck Close. Also James Havard who did realistic faces with abstract shapes.
Q: Have you created any other art forms that your present work is similar to?
A: Over the years I did one sculpture with figures; the piece was made from aluminum panels. The cutout colors are three-dimensional. I added this technique to paintings, which were in an exhibit at The Parrish Museum in 1995.
Q: Speaking of other art forms, you also create cuff bracelets.
A: Yes, I did nine designs, all different.
Q: There are other elements of your life besides art, like teaching.
A: I taught after I graduated from college. I was pretty young to do that, in my 20s. It was a way to have contact with people. I like meeting new people.
Q: Is that why you like living here, among other things?
A: We’ve lived here for 17 years, and I don’t have the desire to travel. Artists like it here for the light, but the Hamptons is also a great mix: the culture, the relaxed atmosphere. We’re in the country, pleasantly filled with people.

Ceravolo’s work can be seen on his website: ceravoloportraits.com

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