Ode to Invisible Man, 2014
Mixed Media on Panel 
32 x 22 in. 


Phillip intends to manufacture cultural reliquaries, artifacts and social curiosities that represent the cultural tapestry of the Caribbean and the wider “new world”, using mediums and other agents of the old world.

Paintings and other artifacts in this case are not for the sake of the medium of presentation, but more so as an artifact of works of art and art practices of the past hence the entire object produced (stretcher bars, frames, oil paints, Phillip Thomas and all the other elements and mediums of these objects) is a complete manifestation of an archeological response to agents of the old world as well as products of the new.

At the end of his Masters and during his fellowship year, Phillip produced works that dealt with issues of colonialism in the Caribbean, and man of the issues of classism that persists in Jamaica and the New world, even today. As an Artist who is fluctuating between the Americas in a sort of nomadic sense, he developed a very clear picture of the ways in which different cultures of the region have dealt with the issues of colonialism as well as post-colonial conflicts. His work began to ask questions about social identity, in a way that would challenge many traditions about the very subject in Jamaica, critiquing Jamaican culture and its willfully invisible middle-class as well as their relationship with the masses. As one can imagine, presenting the Jamaican image from a multi-cultural perspective raises questions of unease.

As one would expect, multi-culturalism begets xenophobia. This then means that civility becomes the explicit currency of social trade, whilst savagery remains the implicit intent. Phillip's work takes those behavioral extremities as subjects of exploration in his work, using images and circumstances that reflect those antithetical positions. Phillip is "technically" an oil painter, however, he considers the use of materials to be as displaced as the subjects he creates with it. The very nature of the language and mediums of oil paints speaks to the tradition of image making in the west. However a mixture of oil paints, tar, and bauxite earth are just some of the materials he has employed to produce images that reflect the kind of social cross-pollination that is discussed in the subject. Traditional painting techniques come up against an idiosyncratic use of other materials in conjunction with the imagery that demands that kind of polyglot. This use of material "simulates" and expresses technically what is discussed textually, and gives the viewer the presentation of an image that is not seamlessly constructed, but more so, one that presents the image and its "seams" or "stitches." No attempt is made to mend oppositely sourced materials. The unlikely juxtaposition of the imagery is then reflected by the use of media. This then becomes a means by which the artists can discuss both the language and the subject simultaneously, creating a discourse between the language of painting as well as the subject it is used to explore.

About Phillip Thomas

Phillip Thomas is considered a realist and he paints with an ease that demonstrates his sure draftsmanship and understanding of the human form. Yet there is more to his artistry than just representation. He harnesses the classical approach of the European masters to cloth and critique his contemporary black subjects. His portraits are appealing because of their conventions and familiarity but repulsive because of their perverse contradictory content. He received the Albert Huie Award for Painting and trained at the New York Academy of Art, where he studied under Eric Fischl. He received educational scholarships: a CHASE fund grant and a grant from the Cobb Family Foundation. Phillip Thomas honorable exhibitions include the Super Plus Under 40 Artist of the Year competition, where he received the Public’s award, and the 2008 Jamaica National Biennial, at the NGJ, and awarded the Aaron Matalon award. His work sold at Sotheby’s, and has been acquired by the World Bank.