March's Feature Artist is Vancouver painter Leon Phillips, who has been a CARFAC member since 1997. Leon's practice is material-based and process-oriented, and gesture plays a key role in his very physical application of paint.
Leon was born in Saskatchewan. Raised on a farm, his early experiences were shaped by the expanse of the prairie landscape. He was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, where he completed a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Studio Art, and graduated with distinction. At the University of Saskatchewan, he studied under artists such as Otto Rogers, David Alexander and Eli Bornstein. He then completed a Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture in Ontario. His final architecture project was included in a group exhibition on suburban planning and design at the Mississauga City Hall.
Leon's painting career was launched with a solo show at The Canadian Consulate General in Chicago. He was the youngest Canadian artist to be featured there. Since then, his work has been exhibited across Canada and the United States in non-profit, public, and commercial galleries and is included in private collections in Canada, the US, and Ireland. His work is also held in public collections such as The Canadian Consulate General in Chicago, Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, and Vancouver General Hospital.
Most recently, Leon's watercolours were featured in Rewriting Lyotard: Figuration, Presentation, Resistance, a special issue of the international journal Cultural Politics, published by Duke University Press. His essay, "Lyotard’s Dance of Paint," was also published in this issue. In the essay, Leon discusses the importance of colour and gesture in his work and the influences of German painter Gerhard Richter and French writer Jean-François Lyotard.
Leon currently lives and works in Vancouver, where he continues to make both oil and watercolour paintings that explore space through colour and gesture. According to Leon, "the longer I paint, the more I feel that text and image are on two different paths. I feel that I am always trying to get to that place in my work where meaning comes before language, as it does with music."
To see more of Leon's work, please visit www.leonphillips.ca.
Image credits: Leon Phillips with Flux 15, watercolour on paper, 22” x 30”, 2014, private collection, Vancouver, BC. Cover of Cultural Politics, July 2013, featuring Expand 5, by the artist, watercolour on paper, 15” x 20 ½”, 2012, private collection, Vancouver, BC.