Color is imbedded throughout your work. What’s your approach to color in the creative process?
Color has always been important to my paintings for how it shapes meaning in its abundance or its severe restriction. At present, I am restricting color in order to direct the imagery towards a more isolated context that is less influenced by time of day or night or even qualities of light that emit from the subject. This restriction opens up other sensitivities of perception that would be distracted by a bright, multicolored palette. You often focus on subjects that our mainstream culture is obsessed with.
Are there certain characteristics that you look for in people in order to paint them?
I recently painted a portrait of an image I found of Rihanna walking a red carpet. The painting was only 14 by 12 inches, making it one of the smallest painting I’ve completed. This painting was also in monochrome and captured an “in-between” moment in the strobing light of the press lineup. The scale of the painting is intimate as is the portrayal of Rihanna lost in thought while posing for the media. It was precisely this uncharacteristic moment of unguarded self-possession that attracted me to it and gave me the sense of its possibility as a beginning of a painting.
How has celebrity changed in your eyes from when you started until today?
It’s changed a lot. The best way I can articulate this is to recommend visiting @shesvague on Instagram. You’ll know exactly what I mean...
Go in the studio with Richard Phillips below, shot and edited by Matin Zad