My work uses a flat plane to convey the visual ideas of construction, mass, and volume. The formally arranged imagery is all invented, but takes cues from architecture and engineering (materials and the structures themselves), as well as the erosion and the decay of perceived ruin. The display of process is an integral component to the work; it tracks the time, mistakes, revisions, and the experience used to arrive to a resolved composition. The end results are pieces that embrace surface and relate the ideas of: the used, the weathered, the discarded, and the beaten. I aim to create a quiet calm to the work that is still able to convey a stoic presence.
At its core, the compositions are about physicality and decision making. The immediacy of drawing and painting allows me to attack spaces on the canvas. The size of the plane forces me to use my entire body; the act of painting, drawing, erasing, and sanding all require a certain balance of touch and force. One idea completion may necessitate removal, thereby initiating another physical activity. As an artist, I need the action, and the work needs to be work; the labor is chronicled in the surface as removed elements are never really gone, only ghosts of the materials’ (pencil, charcoal, and paint) permanence.
Compositions are constructed primarily with line. Line acts as a device for the illusion of suspension as well as enclosing or mapping a shape. There emerges a printmaking look to the surface (at times with embossed marks) achieved through rubbings and other treated materials. Subsequently, the compositions read as a sort of blueprint. The line-play between the “exact” straightedge is offset by the “imperfect” hand and creates a diagrammed visual tension.
Frank P. Phillips has been professionally creating art for over 20 years. He, his wife Meg, daughter Bess, and brood of animals split time between Alexandria and Charlottesville. In Alexandria, Phillips works at Episcopal High School, where he teaches Introduction to the Arts, Painting, Drawing, Photography, AP Studio Art, and Art History. He received his BA with High Honors from Hobart College in 1997 and received his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2005.
At Hobart, Phillips was a decorated member of the Men’s Varsity Soccer team. Currently, he is an avid squash player. At Episcopal, Frank Phillips utilizes his athletic experience to coach soccer and squash. His passion for competition and physical activity directly influences his artwork. The paintings and drawings are products of his very physical process, and he embraces the work involved.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Frank Phillips has been a member of the design team that developed the plans for the new $10 million arts facility at Episcopal High School. After years of planning, the fully integrated arts facility was opened in September 2003.
Within the EHS Ainslie Arts Center, Phillips has been a director and curator of the Angie Newman Johnson Gallery. He has managed the operations of scheduling, artist selection, marketing, and installation. Phillips has been heavily involved in all Angie Newman Johnson Gallery shows; those featured include Will Mebane, Rob Evans, and Billy Sullivan. He has curated exhibitions of work by Sam Gilliam, Timothy App, David A. Douglas, Ed McHugh, John C. Menihan, and Russell Horvath.