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Phil Woodward often appropriates mundane images and invests them with a renewed vigour.  He responds directly to the chosen image, focusing primarily on colour. Adulterating the purity of the original with his own messy and dulled oil paints, he sees his interaction with the original image as a kind of mutation or positive contamination. His paintings emerge from a speculative process driven by his engagement with the materiality of paint and its possibilities. A process which explores the relationship between structured planning and spontaneity.

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This series of paintings named, War on Terroir are all painted on adverts from Frieze magazine, first mounted onto canvas. Whilst primarily concerned with exploring colour, form, and spontaneous mark making, the paintings also consider the relationship between purity, taste and call for a reevaluation of what constitutes contamination. They discuss the possibility of the grand idea of a painting as a form protest, slowly and almost biologically spreading beyond the sterile environment of the gallery or Art Fair. At the same time they also worry about the possibility of painting descending into a futile kind of virtue signalling, biting the hand that feeds it.


“The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”

Having ignored the advice inherent in William Blake’s aphorism for a long time, I eventually followed my folly and photographed the contents of my compost bin in December 2018. I finally answered the pulsating, subconscious energy that is the mass of the Earth’s compost which was calling me. 

I have photographed it regularly since then. Prompted by an interest in pareidolia, essentially seeing faces in things, I look for a suggestion a of face in the head sized rotting sculptures I make from my food waste. I post them on instagram, inserted amongst the hashtags #instafoodie #instarecipe #cheflife etc. I see them as causing a mild disruption amongst the scrolling recipes and curated, seductive, food galleries. They are not wise but an absurd reminder of our impermanence as a species and the waste we produce through our consumption. We, our ideas and our art will eventually return to compost.

January 25, 2025

January 10, 2025


Earlier work