Ben Phillips creates mixed media art pieces inspired by the vibrant metropolis of London.
Ben uses bright, vivid colour palettes, coupled with expertly portrayed reflections to convey the movement and energy of the city.
The past decade has seen Phillips refine his subject matter, developing an interest in architecture and as such, the cityscape. Initially, taking particular inspiration from the continental café cultures of Paris and Venice, it is during Phillips’ lifetime that London (and Britain as a whole) has begun to adopt the very same culture.
Town squares and public places have become more open, attractive and accessible. The rise of pavement coffee shops and wine bars bring with them an energy and vibrancy, of people connecting, socialising and co-existing. The perfect conditions for ‘people watching’, the perfect conditions for an artist.
It is only in the last three years that Phillips has begun to refine his medium, working in collage predominantly, but complemented with dipping pens, markers, oil pastels alongside bold additions of acrylic paints and, interestingly, regular household satins.
Admiring the likes of Hannah Höch when it comes to the creation of texture through collage, Phillips uses bold shapes married with cuttings from newspapers, fashion magazines and design magazines to add interest and details to buildings, streets, skylines and street ‘furniture’.
At the beginning of his process Phillips visualises each piece as a series of shapes, textures and colours (Picasso’s use of block colour is a particular source of inspiration) – he works right onto the canvas without sketching or too much planning, working fluidly as the piece evolves organically. He describes his process as being fairly ‘loose’ and ‘in the moment’ – his aim is not to present an exact replica of a London skyline, but an impression thereof. Through shapes, colour and collage Phillips gives the viewer just enough to recognise the location, but omits just enough such that the narrative of the piece is unique to the viewer.
“I don’t want to dictate the ‘essence’ of the piece to a viewer, everyone has an idea, a memory, a recollection or an impression of London, for example. So when they look at my interpretation, I hope that it merely ignites their own feelings or thoughts about a place or time.”
— Ben Phillips