In Process: Gabriel Phipps

Gabriel Phipps is painter based in Brooklyn, NY.
Here he presents two recent works and let's us in on their progression and his decision making process.
Recently Phipps curated and participated in Simultaneity (up thru May 19) at the Sherman Gallery at BU College of Fine Arts. Phipps is represented in New York by Howard Scott Gallery .


Gabriel Phipps in his studio, Brooklyn, NY 2013


The First painting presented here is:

Fault Line IIdiptych, 2011, oil on canvas, 24 x 40 in. 

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Fault Line IIdiptych, 2011, oil on canvas, 24 x 40 in. 


Artist Statement:

A great teacher of mine once said paint can be anything, a sentiment I very much agree with. I might add that paint can be everything - at once.

Through the use of basic geometric shapes – squares, rectangles and trapezoids – I make paintings that simultaneously reference a number of visual notions and phenomena. Architectural forms derive from rectangularly shaped painting media and are a response to the urban landscape in which I live. Color combinations reference the elements - water, earth, sky, and fire - while also referring to digital light, the vibrant blue of a computer desktop, and childhood memories of Boston’s brick cobbled streets and buildings. Figurative content speaks to the experience of confronting somebody within the confines of a rectangle, be it a doorway or a mirror. Pressurized junctions of form, and subsequent deformations of shape, are a nod to aerial photography and environmental forces acting on one another.

Laden with contradictory source material, the geometric units that reverberate throughout the work are at once flat and volumetric, solid and ephemeral, synthetic and organic, static and kinetic, fictitious and real; they are structures seen from above and from the ground; they are free-standing and verge on collapse; they speak of pink flesh, metal shards and glowing television screens; they are somebody who is nobody, someplace that is no place.

The duality of the paintings, their refusal to fit into a single reading, their very instability makes them more than the sum of their parts – it gives them vitality and a spark of life.


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On the painting process:

My painting process combines critical thinking and intuition. I have no single method of making a painting. There are times when I find an image purely through the act of painting. There are also times when I make preparatory sketches as a way of beginning a painting. Once the painting process begins, I usually amend any initial plans I may have crafted. Some paintings come easily - in a matter of a day - while others take months or years to complete. Those that are made over a protracted period often get sanded or scraped down and are subsequently repainted. Photography and computer imaging often play a roll in my process - I'll photograph a painting and repaint it using both Adobe Photoshop and actual paint on hard copies of the photograph; those sketches - both the computer generated and the hand crafted ones - become blueprints for re-working a painting. However, those blueprints are merely jumping-off points - once I start painting, anything can happen within my chosen parameters. 

Intuition plays its biggest role when I respond to the material qualities of paint media. Nearly ten years ago I began my checkerboard paintings. In a moment of frustration I blackened a series of failed paintings, using the largest paint applicator I could find - an eight inch rectangular scraper. As I did, something shifted; I felt a sense of lightness and euphoria. The very act of obliterating began bearing fruit; marks produced by the scraper gave way to images resembling walls, each mark suggesting a stone or brick. As I made these paintings my sensitivity to application and touch expanded; scrapers and trowels became instruments to describe mass and form, while brushes became increasingly useful to describe atmosphere and air. What I was painting didn’t only look like its’ referent – it felt like it as well. Without intending to, I’d begun a new train of expressive thought. 

- Gabriel Phipps


The second painting presented by Phipps is:

Nursemaid’s Elbow, 2010, oil on canvas, 39 x 24 in.


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Nursemaid’s Elbow, 2010, oil on canvas, 39 x 24 in.


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