The online editorial and curatorial project for systems, non-
Philip Cole | Making Painting+-
Window Gallery, Phoenix Brighton. 20 March – 21 April 2019
A review by Geoff Hands
Phoenix Brighton entrance and notice board for Making Painting+-
Slider 2. 60 x 60cm. Acrylic resin on board, 2018, showing the l/h frame edge.
Slider 1. 60 x 60cm. Coloured polyester resins on board, 2018.
All but one of the 36 paintings listed in the catalogue have been made (manufactured
might also be a valid term) over the past two years. Considering the intensity of
labour typically required for the work, this is no mean feat; none of the pieces
are superfluous or incidental to the selection. Given more space, and with extra
works to display the various series, or projects, the exhibition could probably be
split into four or five sections, but due to the unavoidable restrictions of the
If it’s truly successful, refinement realised through visual acuity and fine craftsmanship
can easily go unnoticed, or be taken for granted. Hence, in viewing Cole’s typically
Installation, L to R: Let’s Make Painting Great Again (B&W) / Life and Death / Lets Make Painting Great Again (B&M).
If anything has the potential for an alternative curation, or a more overtly conceptual
approach to presenting visual statements, the two versions of Lets Make Painting
Great Again (B&M) and (B&W), and Life and Death are possible contenders. But their
presence at the start of the exhibition positively manipulates and prepares the viewer,
through ironic humour, to enjoy the works on their own terms. The message might be
that paintings can prove to be qualitative artifacts with a much-
The various configurations are characterised with colour combinations that sometimes suggest printers’ colour registration marks or aerial views of tins of paint – or even hints of perspectival forms as seen in the three Appendage works. But these associations are not necessarily of primary importance, even if a consequence is to reference similar organisations of colour and shape in the overlooked and marginal, or in architectural spaces (the interstices) of ‘real life’.
Appendage trio. All 24 x 18cm. Acrylic resin on board, 2019.
In general terms, in Cole’s work the viewer can be particularly struck by the combinations
of colour and shape that generate a subjective feeling of reverence for the variations
of simple geometry and for the visual pleasure and satisfaction of the systematic
arrangement of component parts. Just as the possibilities of the Japanese aesthetic
Appendage in Red Orange. 24 x 18cm. Coloured polyester resins on board, 2019
If there is (almost) an anomaly in Making Painting+-
Installation view of Paint Out. Acrylic resin and pencil on wall c.2.5 x 1.5 metres, 2019.
Section of Paint Out.
I first came across Philip Cole’s paintings in the ‘20 Painters’ exhibition at Phoenix
Brighton in 2014, in which we both participated. Amongst the 70 or more works exhibited,
the larger and more gestural pieces somewhat overwhelmed Cole’s paintings. Returning
to his works for a more contemplative assessment later, while attending the ‘Painter
to Painter: Discussion Event’, when Peter Ashton Jones (co-
“I think painting is a membrane of consciousness. You have to construct that, you
have to articulate that with discipline and foresight and intelligence, and it’s
those things that are more… interesting to me than necessarily the emotional side
of it. The emotional side is also important because… post modernism, or post-
Cole’s practice may well have vestiges of the deconstructive and the reconstructive
that more painterly practitioners might disdain, but this fascinating notion of ‘obtaining
consciousness’ can be applied to Cole’s works from a viewer’s perspective. The experience
of active looking takes the patient viewer into the work as a thing in itself, visually
and physically, allowing the imagination space to breathe. Possibilities come alive,
in explicitly authentic, concrete, non-
L. Keep a lid on it. 30 x 30cm. Acrylic resin on board, 2019. R. Funk colour theory. 30 x 30cm. Acrylic resin on board, 2019.
20 Painters, ‘Painter to Painter Discussion’ on Vimeo
©Copyright Patrick Morrissey and Clive Hancock All rights reserved.