Conformity | Disobedience | Destruction
SEAN RENNISON PHILLIPS
The term 'Outsider Art' has lost its inverted comma’s in the last 10 years, does this mean it’s now ‘in’?
2006 saw the successes of The Whitechapel Gallery’s ‘Inner World’s Outside’, which at the time was described as ‘Disturbing’ and ‘Overwhelming’ by Guardian critic Adrian Searle. Fast forward to the 2013 and the youngest curator ever Massimiliano Gioni is celebrating Outsider Art in all it’s glory at the world’s oldest contemporary art fair the Venice Beinnale. But what exactly is Outsider Art? Can one be affected by the art world from the outside and thus lose status as an Outsider?
Lying somewhere between exhibition and experiment Sean Rennison Phillips ‘RAW’ sits on a pivot, at a transitional juncture between a culturally affected and formally educated artist. Where does this border lie? This minefield in a no mans land somewhere in the grey of what’s ‘in’ and what’s ‘out’.
Highly critical, sometimes intimidating and almost always geared towards the market, art education in 2015 more often than not yields a very specific produce. Rennison Phillips’ current influences counter this accepted route having been informed by his access to and involvement with the London sub-cultures of graffiti and skateboarding.
Rennison Phillips has dedicated over half his life to painting without consideration of it’s place as art. Through years of spraying graffiti he has developed skills honed by stressful and high-risk situations in the urban landscape. These skills have transcended their ‘criminal’ origins and now reside happily within the realms of art making.
Rennison Phillips’ practice tackles power structures and control mechanisms by presenting the antagonism of conformity and rebellion through shape and form. By examining these polar forces Rennison Phillips scrutinises the quotidian. Architectural altars such as Meanwhile Gardens, South Bank and Stockwell, charge chance meetings with a spiritual energy. These physical manifestations of urbanity in which subcultures thrive have informed and shaped generations of young people. In present day London these spaces are being marginalised to the point of dying, this is cause for concern for Rennison Phillips, with regard to both his personal and London’s wider cultural heritage.
RAW investigates these structures as they are forced upon young people and subsequently imbued with cultural significance and the inevitable damage caused by restricting these locales of creativity and expression.
Sean Rennison Phillips
With its dimensional aesthetic and refined, precision-based process, the work of Sean Rennison Phillips betrays no hint of his lack of formal artistic schooling, occupying its own cleverly carved niche between illustrative and typographic stylistic realms. With as distinctive a respect to progression as to the fundamental principles of these forms, Sean synthesises elements of the social, urban and human experience to create pieces that are both expansive and substantive.
Born in 1989, Rennison Phillips is currently living and working in London. Recent exhibitions include Julien Andoh Commemorative at 71a Gallery, London; Light at Light Eye Mind, London; Curator of In Our Manor, Ten Grand Arcade, London; Johnny's Cafe at Woah Now Gallery, Copenhagen; Johnny's 22s London Bus at Tate Modern, London.