“I often use painting as a way to reflect,” Pat Phillips said on the eve of his new solo show at M+B Gallery in Los Angeles. “A way to unpack memories, past traumas, and experiences that seemed pretty normal by 90’s/early 2000’s standards. Mythologies we repeated…games we played…phrases we spoke…even our relationships. As I get older, I think about these events. Frequently embellished or glossed over…how that party was so dope!, but someone dropped the N-bomb. Sometimes as a means of survival this meant laughing it off to show everyone you weren’t “a pussy.” Sometimes that meant punching someone in the face… Strange Suburb is a visual diary of these lived experiences.”
In a recent interview with Juxtapoz this past Winter, Pat gave an overview of America, through experiences in the South and Northeast. Many of those experieces are felt in his paintings, and we commented at the time as to how Pat was like a documentarian, just not in a literal sense. With Strange Suburb, he packs a punch, almost a more literal hostility. But a poetic and versatile hostility, something timeless in terms of understanding America but also a misunderstanding by some of where we are at today. Pat is getting right to it. This work shows the spirit of American painting in the vein of Guston and Marshall where politics and social causes can be spoken of and to with figuration and almost collaging of ideas. There are familiar faces in the paintings, but originally placed and in a new context.
“With my current work, obviously, the cartoons are literal in the sense that they are taken from pop culture, but the characters’ roles take on a more subversive purpose,” Phillips told me last year. “Maybe that’s me being stuck indoors for two years and indulging in my childhood through streaming services and bidding on old comic books, haha!” But the end of result are paintings with a purpose, a torpedo through our cultural landscape and some of Pat’s strongest works to date. —Evan Pricco