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.
Born in Massachusetts in 1962, Richard Phillips lives and works in New York. He has exhibited his work in numerous group shows internationally including Whitney Biennial, New York (1997), Greater New York, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2000) The Contemporary Face: From Picasso to Alex Katz, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg (2001) and Timer.01: Intimacy, Triennale Bovisa, Milan (2007). Solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Zürich (2000), Kunstverein Hamburg (2002) and Le Consortium, Dijon (2004). Phillips solo exhibitions at White Cube include; Birds of Britain (2002), Michael Fried (2005) and he will exhibit over the summer (2010) at White Cube Hoxton.