Saturday, April 28, 2012


"To study philosophy is nothing but to prepare one’s self to die.”
- Cicero

The art of Brendan Jon Philip begins with disaster and moves from there. Imagery meets with catastrophe and signifying cues are multiplied, layered and distorted; the signal is overwhelmed by noise until noise becomes new signal.

This collection of recent work continues the narrative of dissolution and dissonance as an impetus of liberation that has become characteristic of Brendan's practice. Anchoring the jump-cut semiotics at play in these works, the human skull serves as a leitmotif that weaves its way through the show like an unruly ghost.

The skull as a recurring element, speaks to the transience of human existence though the art- historical context of vanitas while also evoking contemporary iterations as an icon of punk and heavy metal subcultures, among others. In the marginalized spaces occupied by such subcultures, and impelled by the urgency engendered by our mortally finite situation there is an opportunity for experimentation and emphasis on immediacy of experience that informs new modes of expression. Thus the skull becomes an iconographic key to opening new aesthetic and ideological territories.

Building from this core is a dense and assaulting treatment of color, a phosphene burn against darkness that finds these works shaping dissonance into an intuitive personalized aesthetic of association surrounding a primal hook. The result is a palimpsest of historicized subcultures, psychedelic rock, comic book psychologies, science fiction ontologies, and touching upon geopolitical expressions of dissent and resistance reminding us that the evanescence of life is it's greatest affirmation.

Brendan Jon Philip studied at Whitecliffe College of Art and Design and Elam School of Fine Arts, as well as receiving distinction in Film and Media Studies at the University of Otago. He has been a practicing artist engaged with experimental aesthetics through a variety of projects, spaces, and media in Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin.

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