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Brad Phillips: Grandpa Goes to Hollywood
April 24, 2021 - May 29, 2021Free
de boer gallery is pleased to announce a solo exhibition and limited edition publication of Brad Phillips’ new paintings. In his first exhibition with de boer, Toronto-based Phillips presents figurative paintings depicting his wife, artist Cristine Brache, alongside poignant text paintings.
The exhibition is shown and installed as two parts, separate yet together in two different rooms. The figurative paintings installed in the main gallery and the text paintings installed in the domestic setting of the gallery’s private viewing room. Much like Phillips’ critically acclaimed book “Essays and Fictions,” published by Giancarlo DiTrapano (1974-2021) of Tyrant Books, the exhibition takes on a dual identity where truth and untruths are presented in tandem. This so-called “autofiction,” a term primarily used to describe a genre of postmodern literature that combines autobiography and fiction, also fits perfectly as a descriptor for the paintings in Phillips’ new exhibition.
In one painting, Cristine in the Corner of the Hotel Room, 2021, a female subject wearing luminous white pants and a bright yellow sweater stands in front of a door. A scene that would be ordinary if not for the subject’s position of precarious leaning into the corner between the wall and the door. The female subject’s head is tilted up and staring at the paint on the wall, with her heel raised in the air. It is like stepping into a dream, fleeting yet familiar.
Phillips’ near-perfect replica of Bruce Nauman’s first text painting, The True Artist, is An Amazing Luminous Fountain (1966), offers a clue to understanding the exhibition. Yet, rather than leave the middle of the painting blank like Nauman, Phillips paints an impeccable representation of Daffy Duck, full length with his hands on his hips. Titled No Gods, No Masters, 2021, it becomes evident that Phillips’ art has become an activity, a moral stance, and position.
While the paintings in the exhibition are narrative, to read them only as descriptions as it relates to Phillips and his personal life would be a misstep he is urging you to make. See that’s the thing here, where do our dreams and truths collide? Phillips’ combination of the reality of a life lived intersecting with an artist’s imagination creates a potent dialog about the current state of culture. One in which pictures shared online become currency, signifiers, and identities. Each of which could be true or false. This fragile exercise is complex; it’s complicated, yet effortless and beautiful when articulated by Phillips.