All Nature Breathes, 2007
Watercolor on papyrus
17 x 13 inches
John Ransom Phillips : Biography
Working across various mediums: painting, film, theater and poetry, John Ransom Phillips engages history, both the official popular version as well as esoteric re-workings. Rather than representing familiar records of historic individuals, he instead explores the inner lives of these complex personalities. Phillips’ paintings at times combine image and text and can be read in the legacy of Symbolist painters in that they demand the spectator to unpack them, with careful consideration for what they portray beyond appearances. The paintings have a dream-like quality where forms morph and melt into each other. Having studied with Richard Diebenkorn, Phillips’ use of light and exuberant color is reminiscent, although the paint application is heavier than that of his teacher’s. The tension between abstraction and figuration, or the identification of objects, is an abiding motif in his work. It is indeed this tightrope edge that makes the work so compelling and transcendent of any one particular style or interpretation.