chicago

John Phillips

Tony Wight Gallery

The coupling of clear form with an at times confused figure-ground relationship is a hallmark of John Phillips’s oils. In this recent exhibition of nine new works, the artist’s newly introduced battle was between cranked-up color and striations of gray, with the latter poised to triumph at every turn. Phillips’s precise positioning of circles, ovals, and stripes suggests the use of a computer to sketch out pattern and color prior to painting. Still, the edges of forms, while clean and purposely plotted, are hardly perfect, their wavering lines exposing a comfort with the unaided hand’s limitations.

The best works in the show have a vibrant visuality. They are crafted with thick paint that keeps the eye moving from oval to ground to oval, seeking respite in canvases never quite large enough to allow for it. The color is artificial and opaque, parsed out in hand-plotted compositions that

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