The artist Tony Philips who lives in Filecchio, in May of last year had an exhibition of his latest work entitled – TUBE; THAMES; ANATOMY OF LONDON at the Commonwealth Club in London.. We published an article about that exhibition (article here) This week comes news of another exhibition of work from Tony and this time he moved even further afield from Filecchio – round to the other side of the world – to the Punjab in the northwest of India.
Tony Phillips, who is all set to exhibit his illustrations at the Punjab Kala Bhawan, India says he likes to comment on society through his work
When a foreign artist chooses India as his muse, what can the end result be? Malnourished children begging on the road, a sun-burnt skeletal figure pulling a rickshaw in some traffic-congested area or opium smoking, long-haired sadhus at Kumbh Mela. So when Tony Phillips, who is all set to exhibit his illustrations at Punjab Kala Bhawan under the aegis of Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi’s Beyond Boundaries programme, told us that he had made some comments on the Indian society, especially Delhi, through his paintings and drawings, we half expected to see those set images.
A close look at his frames and we do see those familiar images, but the sting of ‘in-the-face’ kind of reality has been somewhat taken off, thanks to his soothing colour palette and powerful lines. Along with the rhythm of life that Tony found in places like Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk and Pahar Ganj, he has successfully captured the transitional phase that Indian society seems to be going through. So, images like a huge hole in the ground right in the middle of Connaught Place with the cult sign of Mcdonald at the backdrop, rag-pickers getting on with their life with the towering minarets of Jama Masjid for an anchor, the spiritual and commercial connect of the people living on the street are visually appealing and mentally stimulating.
The inspiration for his Delhi series may come from different corners of the city, but the connecting thread for most of his paintings remain the same — an overpowering presence of naked electric cables, which originates at the ground level and spirals up to anywhere, everywhere. Tony uses this wire mash as a metaphor for the entanglement of life in modern India, which is exciting and dismaying at the same time.
Tony, the UK-born and Italy-based artist, is not seeing India through the eye of a first-timer. For he has known India for a while now, ever since he came to Punjab in 1995 leading a group of young artists under Shropshire (UK) Punjab Exchange Programme.
Though, essentially a sculpturist by education and landscape artist by profession, illustration is also an important part of Tony’s artistic entity now. “Drawing is a good medium to make a comment on society and I love to capture the changing trends of society, people’s struggling at different levels to go along with those changes as well as their weaknesses and failures,” says Toni.
Tony uses pen and wash technique to execute his ideas — strong focused lines to tell his story and water colour background for that added drama. “Lines play an important part in the whole saga as it gives rhythm to a drawing. The rest comes from layering of colours,” he explains. Tony’s odyssey with India, however, does not stop at this series only.
The artist who is also know for his larger than life installations and relief-sculpted panels is planning to paint the essence of Delhi on a huge canvas, which he wants to display along with similar frames on New York and London.
“India is a country to look out for when it comes to socio-economic development,” he says as his parting shot. But what makes us curious is the choice of metaphor he will use to explain his developmental theory. Well, only time will tell!
– source – Parbina Rashid – tribuneindia.com