De Buck Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of recent works by London-based artist Philip Colbert. Held at the gallery’s location in Saint-Paul de Vence, this will be Colbert’s first presentation at the gallery. The exhibition, which showcases new paintings and sculpture, will run from July 30, 2022 through August 27, 2022 with an opening reception on Saturday, July 30, 2022.
This exhibition is a mini-survey of themes which the artist has worked with across his career. It features eleven new paintings, including a selection of character paintings; Colbert’s iconic lobster persona paintings; and what the artist calls “dialogue paintings,” which feature a subject and a background with layered shapes, text, and costumed personas. The show also includes a new series of Colbert’s Flower Study paintings, as well as two large-scale sculptural works. One of which, Lobster Flower, is a colorful homage to Yayoi Kusama’s polka-dotted flower sculptures, with Colbert’s rendition featuring a lobster at its center. Rounding out the presentation is one of Colbert’s “Hunt” paintings, large canvases showcasing complex narrative scenes. They are reminiscent of French artist Jacques Louis David’s history paintings, instead featuring Colbert’s signature personas, abstract elements, and a humorous touch.
Colbert is most known for his Neo-Pop Surrealism which is personified by his cartoon lobster character. Often referred to as the “godson of Andy Warhol,” his practice evokes the style of his Pop art forebearers such as Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, while also paying homage to other influential figures across the Western art historical canon, from Vincent van Gogh and Anthony Van Dyck, to contemporary artists, such as Kusama and George Condo. Most of his cheeky, satirical works feature the lobster character as their central subject.
Colbert’s Flower Study paintings, which clearly reference Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” series, demonstrate the artist’s talent for seamlessly meshing cartoon-ish characters with references to classical painting and Pop. Like Warhol, Colbert produces serially, creating multiple paintings of the same image of flowers with subtle variations in color. However, where Warhol’s flora were inspired by a photograph in a magazine, Colbert’s began as paintings of cacti, which he saw as counterparts to his lobsters, both being prickly, tough creatures living in harsh environments with “slightly violent exoskeletons” to protect their softer interior. From there the flowers began to take shape and resemble those of the iconic Pop artist. “Appropriation in my art world…keeps you anchored into the dialogue, our historical recognition,” says Colbert about his use of Warhol’s lexicon. “People are familiar with that and they can draw references.”
Familiarity is critical to Colbert’s work. He often combines the banal and comical with references to ‘prestigious’ works, creating accessible conversations in art. For Colbert, the purpose of his work revolves around “believing in the poetry of everyday language” while remaining “unpretentious” about his designs. The artist philosophizes that humor is an essential component of life, inextricably seen across his oeuvre.
About the Artist
Philip Colbert was born in Scotland and currently lives and works in London. His works have gained international recognition in the United States, Korea, Japan, Holland, and China. He received his MA in Philosophy from St. Andrews University after attending Strathallan School in Scotland. Colbert’s work has been exhibited at institutions globally including the Tate Modern, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai.