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Matt Phillips at the Landing


At the Landing in West Adams, Matt Phillips’ quiet abstract paintings span the large space, each one a unique portal into form, color, and light. In each work, geometric shapes are fragmented and reassembled; the slight fissures where they don’t quite line up creates an odd sensation, as if we are able to see multiple sides of a shape from a singular viewpoint as it unfolds before us. 

The artist mixes silica sand with pastel-hued pigments, applying thin layers of paint with small brushes to create rippling wave-like patterns across flat planes of color. (The works have such a unique texture that at first I thought they were cut paper.) Phillips’ gessoed-white underpainting glows through his colors, almost as if the works were backlit, adding a luminescent quality that melds with his pigments to create flowing gradients. As he paints, Phillips is careful to leave a thin white border of his canvas visible, like a Polaroid’s white frame. The technique adds an urgency to these innovative works—rather than paintings that drift off the canvas’ edge, letting the eye travel with it, Phillips’ white border pins the action within the frame, directing you to slow down and look again.

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Photo: Matt Phillips, “Mollusk (II),” 2021. Pigment and Silica on Linen, 84 x 68 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and the Landing.