One can view the muscular new paintings from Matt Phillips through the lens of several filters. Architectural elevations, terrains and topographies, maps, woven textiles, Cubism and traditional stained glass; each results in its own limitations. The visible references are there but the work won’t lie comfortably within any of these contexts—it doesn’t stay put. These paintings are much tougher and more poetic than any particular association, deftly revealing how the processing of multivalent experiences and sources can result in refreshing and entirely new possibilities. It’s this balance of the familiar with the unnamable that makes the work nimble but reassuringly sound. What is absolutely apparent here is how the core issues and desires of painting are at the root of Matt Phillips’ practice.
When looking at the work featured in Yard Sale, one quickly realizes that each begins with drawing; then the composition is refined and measured out through shifts of proportion, a parceling of space and subtle modifications of contour. Shapes and forms are carefully amended to generate a flawless degree of cooperation, arriving at that point where color and surface have a comfortable place to play. This is the scaffold upon which the composition stabilizes; it’s also how Phillips creates the edges and boundaries that contain the fluid and shifting color held within. It’s his variegated touch and the subtle application of paint on linen that enlivens and softens the geometry of its overall design.
The architecture of Matt Phillips’ paintings is resolutely Modernist, but the feeling expressed comes through more ephemeral means. These are paintings that reveal light and make it physical; they also open up the myriad ways it enters our lives and bring form to life. Filtering through transparent planes, absorbed by or reflecting off surfaces and illuminating dimensional form, for Phillips light is a fundamental means for storytelling. Color, value and intensity are vehicles for expression for a painter; for Matt Phillips, they’re the tools he uses to find his bearings and assemble the structures that prove as evocative as they are satisfying
(born 1979) Matt Phillips has shown his paintings and drawings in Europe, Israel, and the United States. He has had two solo shows at Steven Harvey Projects (NY, NY) as well as solo exhibitions at The University of Maine Museum of Art (Bangor, ME), Branch Gallery (North Adams, MA), Cerasoli Gallery (LA, CA), and Redux Contemporary Art Center (Charleston, SC). Phillips has an upcoming solo exhibition at Studio d’Arte Raffaelli in Trento, Italy (April, 2017).
Matt’s work was recently included in “Hungry for Colour,” a three-person exhibition at Charlotte Fogh Gallery (Aarhus, Denmark). Recent group shows include ”Summerzcool” at David Shelton Gallery (Houston, TX), ”Chronic Blooms” at Geoffrey Young Gallery (Great Barrington, MA), and ”I Can’t Wait to Get Off Work” at Bannerette (Brooklyn, NY). Last year the NYC Dept. of Education and the Public Art for Public Schools Program commissioned Phillips to install a large-scale mosaic at PS106.
Matt Phillips is a MacDowell Colony fellow and he has taught at Hampshire College, Mt. Holyoke College, and The New York Studio School. Phillips is a full-time faculty member at Fashion Institute of Technology (NY, NY). Matt is also a founding member of TSA New York, an artist-run gallery in Brooklyn. He is represented by Steven Harvey Projects in New York City.