abstract art, a systems view

Live out Loud! The paintings of Jane Phillips

with 11 comments

Live out Loud is the title of the exhibition now showing at Mission Gallery in Swansea, celebrating the creativity, life and achievements of Mission Gallery’s first director Jane Philips (1957 – 2011).

If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, I will answer you: ‘I am here to live out loud’.

Emile Zola

These wonderful colour-drenched abstract paintings, do seem a lot like celebrations of life. In a previous post I reflected on the idea that the job of the artist is to make painting live. Jane Phillips knew how to do that. She also knew how to study. The exhibition includes a case of sketchbooks, just a few of the many that she kept, with some of their contents displayed. Some, based on Josef Albers’ simultaneous colour contrast exercises that many of us did at art school, are in one sense ordinary, and in another sense extraordinarily beautiful. I couldn’t pull myself away from the 6″ x 6″ colour and black and white studies. Even the “black and white” ones are about colour.

The large canvases are lovely, yet my favourite of the paintings is modest in size and looks a lot like a formal study.

Jane Phillips, Geometric - Green, Acrylic on Canvas, 75 x 73 cm, Image by courtesy of Mission Gallery

The series of vertical bars of colour seem to be overlaid by different coloured horizontal bands thus changing the colours underneath. But when you get up close it is really difficult to tell whether the bands create the colour changes or whether, in fact, the rectangles making up the horizontal bands are actually painted directly with those different colours, giving only the impression of translucent bands.

I studied it long and hard and I couldn’t work out whether the bands caused the colour changes or whether colour changes were the cause of the bands. I liked that the artist’s study had elicited studious behaviour in me the viewer. And it wasn’t just study, it was also enjoyment. The painting is decorative, which I think corresponds to enjoyment, and thoughtful, corresponding to studiousness. This kind of pleasurable studying reminds me that I am alive: I think therefore I am. The painting is a call to study and to enjoy – a call to live out loud.

(Mission gallery have a WordPress blog at

Written by Andy Parkinson

August 15, 2011 at 7:10 am

11 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Great painting: wish I lived a littlecloser to Swansea: I’d be visiting the gallery!

    Rachael Pinks

    August 15, 2011 at 9:02 am

    • Hi Rachael’
      glad you like them
      if ever you are in that area the Mission gallery is a lovely space

      Andy Parkinson

      August 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    • Rachael, thinking of good art spaces, and in the Midlands… you probably already know about Tarpey Gallery in Caste Donnington. If you don’t, I highly recommend it!

      Andy Parkinson

      August 18, 2011 at 6:27 am

  2. Yes know of the Tarpery Gallery in Castle Donnington: but haven’t as yet visited. I read your post on Manley’s exhbition, I saw some of his paintings at an exhibition in Derby about 10 years ago. When does the current one @ Tarpey Gallery end?

    Rachael Pinks

    August 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    • It ends this Saturday, 20 August!
      However, from 27 August there is a show of Marek Tobolowski’s abstract paintings and drawings and that looks very promising too.

      Andy Parkinson

      August 18, 2011 at 4:09 pm

  3. Thanks! won’t make it before the 20th Aug. But will go to Tobolowski’s for certain.

    Rachael Pinks

    August 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm

  4. Hey Andy, like this piece by Phillips a lot. Anyway, I don’t know if you saw them, but I left a couple comments on your “Square Tango” entry. I’m interested in possibly interviewing you, if you wouldn’t mind.

    Ross Wolfe

    August 18, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    • Hi Ross, yes I did see them and emailed you (perhaps I got the wrong address?) to say that I would be pleased to, and also sending you a link to images of my work all in one place.

      Andy Parkinson

      August 18, 2011 at 10:51 pm

  5. Yes, I will e-mail you back shortly.

    Ross Wolfe

    August 22, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: