FIRST LOOK | RICHARD PHILLIPS “NEGATION OF THE UNIVERSE” AT THE DALLAS CONTEMPORARY
For his first-ever American solo museum exhibition, painter Richard Phillips brings his unique blend of kitschy glamour to the country’s capital of said opulence for his mid career retrospective Negation of the Universe at the Dallas Contemporary, which opened last weekend in conjunction with the city’s Dallas Art Fair. His strikingly distinctive paintings, notable as much for their lowbrow technique as their risqué, irony-laced subject matter and ’70s trash culture themes, address the complex web of pop themes in our media-saturated world—sexuality, politics, power and death among them. For Phillips, critique is as much an intrinsic material in the conception and staging of his work as the materials of their making. His conflating of subject and genre continues to present challenging comment on the condition and reach of contemporary art while providing a seemingly endless array of decadent eye candy in the process.
In a style that both challenges and embraces classical painting techniques, Phillips positions modern day figures within the art historical canon. His subject matter ranges between political figures like George Bush and pop culture icons like Dakota Fanning, Lindsay Lohan and Sasha Gray, as well as found imagery from media sources past and present. While painting remains the backbone of Phillips’ work, his most recent works explore other modes of image production—through short films, photographic stills and sculptures.
Presented in tandem with his monumental outdoor sculpture, Playboy Marfa— a large-scale sculptural work featuring a blacked-out 1972 Dodge Charger set against a giant neon Playboy sign—installed outside the venue, Phillips’ exhibition features both past and new works that emphasize his career-long exploration of political and social identity, consumerism, eroticized desire and social constructs.
The artist with muse…
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