This painting depicts text that reads ‘Help Please Hlep’ in red, urgent letters over a stark white background.
The artist’s text-based paintings operate in a sort of duality between painting and writing. They allow Phillips to become an abstract painter focusing solely on texture and color while also connecting to the artist's practice focused on linguistic and literary pursuits and their relationship to contemporary culture. Much like Phillips’ critically acclaimed book Essays and Fictions—published by Giancarlo DiTrapano (1974-2021) of Tyrant Books—each text-based painting works as a short story.
When asked about his text-based work, Brad Phillips responded: “unlike my figurative paintings, the text-based paintings I make are just smaller, simpler ways of writing”.
Brad Phillips’ artwork explores dark subjects, including addiction, mental illness, mortality and eroticism. The artist’s paintings, ranging from text-based to photorealist, present truths and untruths in tandem. Phillips’s work often playfully references stereotypes of the struggling male artist, inviting viewers to misread his compositions as autobiography—exploring the intersection between dominant cultural readings, lived experience and the imagination.
Brad Phillips, born in 1974, is an artist and writer based in Toronto.
Solo exhibitions of Phillips’ work have taken place at: de boer in Los Angeles, California; Harper’s in New York City; Allen & Eldridge in New York City; CSA Space in Vancouver, Canada; Wallspace in New York City; James Fuentes in New York City; Groeflin Maag Galerie in Zurich, Switzerland; Rod Bianco Gallery in Oslo, Norway; and Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York City; among others.
Two-person exhibitions of Phillips’ work have taken place at: Anat Egbi in Los Angeles, California (with Cristine Brache); and Working Title in Toronto, Canada (with Sojourner Truth Parsons).
Group exhibitions that have shown Phillips’ work have taken place at: Nino Mier Gallery in Los Angeles, California; Galerie Sebastien Bertrand in Geneva, Switzerland; Signs & Symbols in New York City; Jessica Bradley in Toronto, Canada; The Hole in New York City; M + B in Los Angeles, California; and Galerie de l’UQAM in Montreal, Canada.
Phillips’ first book of short stories, Essays and Fictions, was published in 2019 by Tyrant Books. Writing about Phillips and his work has appeared in various publications, including: Autre Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, Purple Fashion Magazine, Mousse, Art Forum, Modern Painters, Hyperallergic, Whitehot, Frieze Magazine, Bordercrossings, The Art Newspaper, and Canadian Art.