Richard Phillips’s strikingly distinctive paintings derive their tension from an unsettling blend of lurid imagery and a refined, almost academic painting style.
Phillips often incorporates material taken from a range of cultural sources, from porn, advertising and fashion spreads from the 1950s,1960s and 1970s to the pop paintings of Mel Ramos, Alex Katz and Andy Warhol, translating these into glossy, hyperrealist portraits. The result is stylised figures either in heightened colour, reminiscent of 70s Technicolor films, or in black and white, which he paints in flat, slick surfaces on canvas or aluminium. He often crops the body from each figure, scaling up his subjects’ faces and re-situating them against a bold, neutral ground. Phillips’ figuration involves a level of abstraction where a radical lack of illusion sits on equal terms with the artist’s strong fascination for and empathy with his protagonists. His subjects, often drawn from pop culture or politics, are presented with few naturalistic details or clues to the place or setting. Staring out of their frames in blank perfection, they become the empty and inaccessible ciphers of contemporary power.
Richard Phillips lives and works in New York. Solo exhibitions include Swiss Institute, New York (2010); Le Consortium, Dijon (2004); Kunstverein Hamburg (2002) and Kunsthalle Zürich (2000). He has exhibited his work in numerous group shows internationally including ‘Size Does Matter’, The Flag Art Foundation (2010); ‘Face to Face’, Denver Art Museum (2010); ‘Pretty Baby’, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2007); ‘Timer.01: Intimacy’, Triennale Bovisa, Milan (2007); ‘The Contemporary Face: From Picasso to Alex Katz’, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2001); ‘Greater New York’, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000) and the Whitney Biennial, New York (1997). Phillips’ imagery has achieved a level of recognition outside of the art world, with fashion, media and film collaborations, including Gossip Girl, MAC Cosmetics, The Art Production Fund, Visionaire and a recent guest judge appearance on Bravo’s TV series “Work of Art: The Next Great Artist.”