Brad Phillips (born 1974 in Toronto, Ontario) is best known for his unsettling realistic paintings, showing sensitively each imperfection, as if headlights shone at them. His work captures egoistic ‘reality’: that which appears real and factual, but which is in fact an artifice or simulation. The idea of autobiography to him is “just highly edited fiction.” His work is decidedly non-romantic in content and style. However, he paints about love and intimacy. This is the crux of of the contradiction, and which he elucidates by stating:
I want to make work about subjects that people perceive as shame-laden, because I’m more interested in connecting with my audience emotionally rather than intellectually. If I can make myself vulnerable and make art about, say, being in rehab, or having mental illness, if this can help one person in Vermont who sees it online feel less alone in the world or not as stigmatized and ashamed, then to me this is a beautiful thing.”
His writing is no less well known. Provocative, contentious, intelligent, and inquisitive; for as much bravado as he brings there’s an ample amount of humility. His critical art writings have appeared on websites such as Momus and Vice, and in publications such as Animal Shelter, Mousse, Editorial Magazine, Artslant, and Modern Painters. In Suicidal Realism, his first novella, his vision exposes the clarity of seeing inward without shame. He knows in his quest he is going to transmute memories, but, as he does in his painting, he holds the moment in alterity.
The story is of his life — as he spins it. It is autobiographical, but the truth is the fabrication.