Art Nerd City Guides: New York · Los Angeles

Philip Slagter – The Comeback

Phillip Slagter – Molecular Martyrdom
Acrylic on canvas 46×58″ $6,000

 

As Philip Slagter (pronounced SLAY-tur) approaches age 70, the artist says he’s wary of beliefs and the way they can close your mind off from other possibilities.

“A lot of people think we’re here on this planet as a physical being and that maybe we can be lucky enough to have a spiritual experience,” he said. “I’m a proponent of exactly the opposite idea: we’re a spiritual being that gets to have an earthly experience. That experience is to learn and is to teach.”

Slagter, who’s shown his work in New York and Los Angeles, only recently began painting again.

Born in Indiana in the post-war 1940s, Phil got an education and headed to New York. In the early 1970s, Phil was a staff artist at New York Magazine, which allowed him to develop his illustration chops as his personal interests favored somewhat whimsical pop surrealist work like that being created by his contemporary, Robert Williams.

In 1990, Slagter sold a stockpile of about 300 works to Richard Carlson and Nancy Reges, the visionary patrons behind The Brewery Arts Colony, who hosted a mid-career survey of Philip’s work at Pasadena City College, but by the time the show opened, Slagter was gone. He used the windfall to travel to Thailand, where he lived for five years, got married and had a daughter. After a brief return to LA, they moved to Montana and Philip fell back on his muralist skills to support his family.

In 2007, he spent a year in Macau working with a small crew on a ceiling mural for the Venetian casino. It was 250,000 square feet of sky for an interior designed to resemble the city of Venice.

His ability, or desire, to paint completely eroded in 2012, following the death of his daughter, Dao. He equated the effect to post-traumatic stress disorder, and he spent the next three years doing nothing–barely even standing. In fact, when he finally decided to stand up and start having a life again, he couldn’t walk. His spine had twisted.

Slagter said it’s an interesting thing to “start a new career, a new life” at age 70. He’s back to his old working routine: starting between 3 and 5 in the afternoon and painting until sunrise, a habit he picked up in Macau.

“I’m just trying to have fun painting again. I might be here 30 years, or 10 years, or a week or a hour,” he said with a laugh.
Slagter said if he has to be labeled as anything, he’d call himself a Bernaysian pop surrealist, after Edward Bernays, author of the 1928 book, Propaganda and a pioneer in the ways public opinion can be manipulated. Despite political imagery, Slagter reiterates that he’s not a political artist.

“A political artist is a propagandist. A propagandist makes a political statement that he wants you to believe. I don’t want you to believe anything except what you learn on your own,” he said.

Regarding his own content, Slagter said he’s “looking at what people are believing, and what people are being subjected to… I don’t believe it, but I don’t disbelieve it.”

 

Philip Slagter –  The Comeback

Philip Slagter‘s current work is an information-age lowbrow melange, over-stuffed with visual information from other cultures, world history, conspiracies, pop culture and kitsch. Slagter is a skilled technical painter who can maintain a precise level of detail while working on a large scale, which can sometimes thwart other artists. His paintings are packed with religious, political and pop cultural imagery, and references from the cultures of the places he’s lived and traveled: China, Thailand, Kenya, South America and more: an historical mash-up that reflects different eras of kitsch rendered authentically, whether the style is graffiti, anime, ’50s cartoons or hyper-realism.

 

Philip Slagter with Renée French & Scott Teplin
May 5 – 28, 2017

Opening Reception: Friday, May 5th, 8-11 PM

 

 

 

Phillip Slagter – Clownin
Acrylic on canvas 41×69″ $7,000

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