John Ransom Phillips is a painter whose work has been exhibited internationally at Praxis Gallery, New York City; David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, Chicago; Walsh Gallery, Chicago; Alexio Trabulsi Gallery, Los Angeles; Franz Bader Gallery, Washington DC; The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC; Susan Conway Carroll Gallery, Washington DC; Spaightwood Gallery, Madison, WI; Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA; Nippon Gallery, Tokyo; Toyota Corporate Gallery, Tokyo; Gallery Splendore, Otsu, Shiga, Japan; Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires; Fundart Fundação de Arte e Cultural de Ubatuba, São Paulo; and Zamalek Gallery, Cairo.
Phillips’ art books include Ransoming Mathew Brady (©2010) a collaboration with Alan Trachtenberg, A Contemporary Book of the Dead and Going Forth By Day (©2009) with contributions by Wendy Doniger and Zahi Hawass, and Bed as Autobiography (©2004).
Phillips has been a faculty member of the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He has a PhD in the History of Culture from the University of Chicago.
His work is in numerous public and corporate collections, including those of Bank of America and PLM Corporation, Union Bank Building in San Francisco; The Phillips Collection in Washington DC; the James Trotter Convention Center in Columbus, Mississippi; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
My paintings occupy both figurative and abstract dimensions. I employ bold colors and complex spaces with the hope of drawing the viewer in close so that the canvas may then slowly reveal its meanings.
What is real to me is not always what is concrete and immediate. My consciousness unveils images and patterns of behavior; while my memories and dreams provide me with maps of my subconscious— they reveal that I have lived many times before this life, and will do so again. In these recollections, which I impart to canvas, I find myself traversing many realities. And in my expanding quest, I encounter a kind of love that lies beyond desire, a love of knowing and understanding of the past, the present and possibly the future.
Such experiences don't always invite exposure. Some recollected moments are intimately personal, others are dislocated and violent, still others are joyous and poetic. But I share them all through my work, for the sake of what I consider to be an ongoing meditation on what is real.
If studied chronologically, my work unfolds the various stages in discovering myself by way of what I call “ransoming” identities. That is to say, my work is a record of my evolving personae.
Most of my paintings were inspired and conceived in the areas where I have lived: Egypt, Judaea and New York City