Julia Phillips '15 in Solo Show in Los Angeles
BY Catherine Fisher, November 3, 2021
Alumna Julia Phillips ‘15 is the subject of her first solo show in Los Angeles at Matthew Marks Gallery. Between Love and Loss is on view until December 23, 2021. The exhibition features new and pre existing works, all seen for the first time. The title is derived from the work of opera singer, Jessye Norman, and speaks to the artist’s experience of living through the last 18 months.
As the press release notes, “Phillips is known for her ceramic and metal sculptures that take the form of tools designed for imagined scenarios ranging from commonplace interactions between two individuals (such as negotiation) to more pointed and one-sided actions (manipulation, objectification).” Each sculpture bears an ambiguous title that might help a viewer understand who would use this tool, or open the piece to even more uncertainty.
Take, for example, the piece Drainer II. In this work, a ceramic form is suspended on steel cables above a slab of limestone with a drain in it. The form appears vaguely human, as if it is a disembodied pelvic area, or just the midriff of the Venus de Milo. Removed from the rest of the body, held in place by the strength of metal, this humanesque form lacks all semblance of autonomy and whatever was inside of it has been hollowed out. This reading of the piece is only possible through the title, which brings up other associations such as the concept of feeling drained. Coupled with our current historical moment, the piece evokes a particular emotional valence because of Phillips’ titling.
Between Love and Loss also features video, drawings and monoprints. The variety of mediums consolidate around a particular motive which the artist describes as giving “the psyche a visual, nonverbal language and a voice that can be heard by a broad range of audiences.” These pieces ask viewers to consider not only their relationships with others but also their relationship to their own subconscious.
Julia Phillips was born in Hamburg and now lives between Berlin and Chicago. Her work has been featured at MOMAPS1, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Whitney Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago among many other locations. She participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney from 2015-16 and was an Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum from 2016-17.