in New York, NY / United States
16.05.2024 - 22.06.2024 00:00
Pat Phillips - It Was Sunny, but Then It Started to Rain

P·P·O·W is pleased to present “It Was Sunny, but Then It Started to Rain”, Pat Phillips’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Blending personal, historical, and pop cultural imagery, Phillips creates dreamlike compositions that examine complex questions of race, class, labor, and militarized culture. The exhibition, which features paintings and works on paper from 2020 to the present, combines Phillips’s background in graffiti with a sophisticated study of figuration and elements of the Baroque to depict American subcultures. Utilizing elaborate levels of layering and detail, Phillips’s works often have a biographical entry point, accented by humor and popular cartoons as a means of deconstructing the violent underpinnings of political and social traditions. Bringing familiar faces and objects into new contexts, Phillips presents a dynamic image of America in the 21st century.

Phillips regularly includes references to recognizable brand-names and commodities throughout his intricately textured surfaces. He subsequently reminds viewers of the American infatuation with objects, noting their significance as a form of social signaling and personal armor. In his newest painting, “This Is Not a Drill”, 2024, which he created over the course of four years while observing the various swap meets and changes outside his Philadelphia studio window, Phillips depicts a post-pandemic 4th of July. On a street vendor’s plastic folding table sits an assortment of fireworks with technicolor packaging ranging from kitschy to nationalistic. Underneath the folding table, HDX latex gloves and Adidas shoes are piled high amidst used and discarded face masks strewn about the sidewalk. From a missing power drill depicted as a lingering shadow to three consecutive hands displaying the motion of celebratory handgun fire, the artist pulls from his early history making a living by selling small paintings on his own 6ft folding table. Phillips carefully utilizes Pop Art techniques to depict mass-produced objects alongside impressionistic brushwork and mixed media tactics to reveal unseen forces of power, violence, and what is left their wake.

In addition to the paintings, the exhibition also features several works on paper. In “Untitled (See You Tomorrow Barney!? / Don’t Forget to Visit Our Gift Shop)”, 2021, Phillips depicts the aftermath of the insurrection that took place at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. In the foreground, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, best friends from the 1960s cartoon, “The Flintstones”, can be seen smiling and shaking hands, presumably as they depart the scene after attempting to overthrow the 2020 presidential election results. While their roles are uncertain, Flintstone brandishes a black eye while Rubble has a Band Aid on his left arm. To their left, Nancy Pelosi’s speaker podium is toppled over with Band Aids littering the surrounding ground. In the background, the Confederate flag flies from the top of the Capitol building while a fragmented version of the Gadsden flag, plastered above the figures, reads “Don’t Forget To Visit Our Gift Shop.” Together these symbols not only reveal a level of cognitive dissonance, but an iconography of American consumerism, media, and institutions built and bound by racism, xenophobia, and violence disguised as patriotic comradery. Throughout “It Was Sunny, but Then It Started to Rain”, Phillips deftly reminds the viewer of short-lived optimism, as the dangerous hypocrisy lurking behind the American façade of liberty, freedom, and democracy casts its shadow, once again.

Pat Phillips (b. 1987) was raised in Louisiana and now lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.

Gallery hours Tue – Sat 10 am – 6 pm

Exhibition Duration 16 May – 22 June 2024


392 Broadway
10013 New York, NY
United States


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