Trompe-l'œil (French for "deceive the eye") is an ancient artistic technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion. It was used to paint the frescoes in the grand Roman villas; on furniture crafted in ancient Egypt to accompany the royalty in stylish life after death; and in the Renaissance. To Eric Serritella, the internationally renowned ceramist, whose solo exhibition was opened this week at Jason Jacques Gallery, Trompe-l'œil has become the main tool in his personal language, the leading method in carving spectacular realistic sculptures in clay; they all look like weathered logs of trees that were taken from a Japanese moss garden, where the Wabi-Sabi elevates the aging to the ultimate beauty. It is hard to believe when looking at the work on the show which is so complex, labor-intensive, taking the medium to new horizons that Serritella began his career in pottery as amateur turning vessels on the potter wheel. The transformation happened in a seminar in Taiwan where he was first introduced to the magic of Trompe-l'œil traditionally utilized in historic Yixing teapots. The gallery space looks like the perfect setting for the show, made me feel as if I am visiting a Cabinet of Wonder, those encyclopedic collections of objects of natural history typical to the Renaissance men. The sculptures in the exhibition, are so ambitious, exquisite, and creative, rich in texture and color, where each has its own story, its own title, each tells a narrative from the inner world of the artist. While not inventing the technique, Serritella certainly pushed the envelope of the medium when creating enormous trees in stoneware, each functions as a spiritual teapot, and each is inspired by the natural world.
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