Richard Phillips makes jpeg art — that is, imagery that looks absolutely fantastic when transferred digitally from gallery to collector, curator, critic or magazine art director. The paintings themselves are enormous, and there is no denying the fact that images of bare-breasted babes and Nazi insignia still pack a wallop in a media-glutted world. In fact, this is partly what the work is about, the backbreaking effort to make “paintings as such” while burdened with a head full of Yale-induced Postmodern critical theory.
“Is it a vital medium or a redundant object of nostalgia connoisseurship?” intones the Gagosian Gallery press release. If the answer to that question is based on Phillips’ paintings, the answers would have to be no and yes. The act of laying paint on canvas is not Phillips’ gift. His paintings have none of the fluidity of Tom Wesselmann or the eroticism of David Salle.
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