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  • Installation view of Richard Phillips’ exhibition at Gagosian Athens. Photo by Silia Psychi.

  • Installation view of Richard Phillips’ exhibition at Gagosian Athens. Photo by Silia Psychi.

  • Richard Phillips, “Rainbow Sharon”, 2015. Oil and wax emulsion on linen, 64 1/8 × 48 1/4 inches (162.9 × 122.6 cm)

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Richard Phillips’ exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, Athens

Richard Phillips’ new paintings are the subject of a current exhibition at Gagosian gallery in Athens, giving Greek art lovers and collectors the chance to experience firsthand his amazing works. Richard Phillips, who we are extremely honored to have as guest-curator of our next thematic issue, left behind the photorealistic style and large-scale dimensions of his previous works in order to explore this time the potential of graphic images in a series of evocative portrait-sized paintings.

Of course, the artist’s usual fascination with pop culture, politics, mass media, human sexuality, desire, power and death is still present, and so is his intention to re-contextualize images in order to give them an entire new meaning. In his new exhibition, celebrity portraits and photos of politicians are given a psychedelic treatment, placed upon colorful backgrounds, and are combined with logos, retro textbook illustrations, fanzine imagery and Op Art graphics in order to create an original universe, familiar and uncanny at the same time.

In his diptych To Be Titled (The Venice Beach Connection) (2015), a faded close-up of legendary actress Sharon Tate, who was famously murdered by Charles Manson, is submerged into a striking rainbow spectrum. Phillips’ intension is to depict her both as a celebrity and a martyr, bringing together culture and counterculture, reality and fiction. In Chinchillas and Guinea Pigs (2015), two little animals are transformed into graphic cartoons, painted with neon red, orange and yellow stripes that are inspired by 80s surf wear and the typical color palette used in the T-shirts and sunscreen creams of the time.

On the other hand, in Endless II (2014), two wartime posters are placed side by side to a pink infinity loop — an intriguing work that merges figurative painting and abstraction, standing somewhere between political art and Pop Art. Phillips leaves the viewer perplexed, trying to find the true meaning hidden behind the polished paintings that manage to connect with him in an emotional level, due to the impressive use of shape and color, but remain a mystery as far as the purpose behind them is concerned. As the artist states, it’s a sensory-based realm of irrationality, emotional resonance and psychological unpredictability, or, using a 60’s lyric, it’s all about “the other side of this life”. Richard Phillips’ exhibition will remain on view until August 1, 2015, at Gagosian gallery,3 Merlin Street, 10671, Athens.