Hampstead artist explores his US roots in a slice of Americana

PUBLISHED: 11:19 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:19 08 September 2020

Beware by Matt Phillips is part of a solo show at Aeon Gallery in Hampstead

Beware by Matt Phillips is part of a solo show at Aeon Gallery in Hampstead

Archant

Matt Phillips’ first solo show at Hampstead’s Aeon Gallery shows a fascination with the trailers, motels and railway crossings of his grandparents’ home in New Mexico

A portrait of Veronica Philocles who works at Hampstead Creperie by Matt Phillips whose debut solo show is at Aeon GalleryA portrait of Veronica Philocles who works at Hampstead Creperie by Matt Phillips whose debut solo show is at Aeon Gallery

Summers spent visiting his grandparents in New Mexico gave Matt Phillips a strong emotional draw to the desert’s rocky terrain, wide open skies and vibrant light.

A 2016 retreat in a small desert town called Truth or Consequences developed a fascination with the buildings, trailers, motels, and municipal buildings of the state.

To Matt, they spoke of the lives lived within and around often simple buildings - the complex emotion and human drama woven into the bricks and mortar.

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He has since returned regularly to the United States finding inspiration in Colorado, his brother’s home in Texas, California, and Oklahoma including the land and house where his maternal grandmother grew up, which has remained unchanged since the early 1900s.

The Hampstead artist’s dual US/UK nationality is reflected in works which also use London as a regular subject. His first solo show at Hampstead’s Aeon Gallery includes a portrait of Veronica Philocles, who has worked for many years at the Hampstead Crêperie.

Matt met Veronica while working on a painting of the pub next to the crêpe stand and wanted to contrast her strong and colourful presence with the muted background of the food stall.

Introducing the exhibition he says: “The show is about Americana, its buildings trailers, railroad crossings, motels and grain elevators. These works represent my dual nationality. My parents are American and moved here in the mid 60s, while I grew up in Hampstead and went to school in Hampstead.”

Many of the works seek beauty in the mundane, in neglected, dilapidated, sunlit buildings which capture fleeting moments or fragments of the lives of those who once used them.

The exhibition opens to the public from September 13 to October 8 but tickets to the private view on October 10 can be booked via aeongallery.com


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