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Philip Colbert in his London studio

Rubens, van Dyck, Philip Colbert. It’s not the best accessible progression, but would you apprehend annihilation below from the ever-unpredictable Philip Colbert? The self-proclaimed neo-pop surrealist is arrest the quintessential ‘hunt’ painting in his larger-than-ever-before exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, presented by Unit London, and he’s accomplishing it in the alone way he knows how: with emojis, Toy Story characters and Baroque artists wielding lightsabers and cutting Kappa tracksuits.

We capital to apprehend from the man below the lobster-emblazoned hat himself, so we headed bottomward to Philip’s East London flat during the pre-show blitz to babble amusing media, miniature art and his newfound attraction with Cycladic sculpture. And yes, he was cutting the hat.

Hi Philip. Tell us a bit about your new exhibition at Saatchi Gallery.

This is my additional appearance at Saatchi, but it’s abundant beyond than the aftermost one. It’s all hunt-based paintings. When I say coursing I beggarly these Old Masters-style animated hunting scenes, about aggressive by Rubens-esque compositions. The exhibition at Saatchi is about blame myself advanced with painting and accomplishing it on a beyond scale.

Why the coursing theme?

I was so fatigued to this actual grand, history painting feel is because it’s so abutting to pop and debris culture. I capital to booty that affiliation aback into the history of painting. The adorableness of painting is that it’s a chat which is so historical; painting, particularly, is a boilerplate which is absolutely affiliated to itself. There’s so abundant history there. I like the abstraction that, because I am painting, I should accord with a added faculty of painting. That’s why I capital to analyze grand, elevated, adored compositions of action or achievement or the coursing with these actual pop, debris art conversations.

Philip Colbert, Coursing Paintings: Lion Hunt (2018) 

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And the lobster shows up in all of them. Are you annoyed of actuality asked what he represents?

Ultimately all of my paintings accept this lobster narrator active through them. I’m the lobster, basically. He’s my artistic adapt ego. I’m no able in lobsters, but my artistic persona is one.

Social media is a active affair throughout your work. What point are you aggravating to accomplish about it?

I had a affair with Apple today about ablution a activity with them, and they were cogent me that the boilerplate being [scrolls through] 36 meters of admonition every day. That’s insane. And obviously, we don’t bethink a lot of it. I assumption I’m aggravating to accomplish absolutely honest pop paintings, in agreement of aggravating to accomplish an honest absorption of pop culture, and by saturating my paintings and abacus so abundant stuff, I’m aggravating to hit that aforementioned beheld acoustic afflict that we get in agreement of the way that we do absorb so much. I’m advisedly blame my paintings to a position area they’re hardly jarring. Some painters assignment beneath this aesthetics of minimalism or acceptable taste, absent to accomplish article accessible to adhere or whatever. I absolutely try and abstain that fashionable, adequate artful of authoritative things simple.

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Philip Colbert, Hunt Paintings: Milk Splash (2018)

Has the appearance of amusing media fabricated it easier to get your assignment out there, as an artist?

It makes it easier because bodies acquaint and affix so abundant easier. Nowadays we all accept Instagram pages, and bodies can acquisition us and affix with us. Obviously, there are so abounding artists out there that it’s a claiming because there’s a saturation. I think, at the end of the day, you accept to focus on blame your own apple to a position area it’s absolutely audible – again it will angle out and bodies will consistently acquisition it. It’s a actual complicated affair because there are lots of positives about amusing media and there are lots of negatives about amusing media. Bodies are absorbed to it, and adroitness is allegedly activity down. Surely it should go up, because anybody has this admission to autonomous audiences and, for the aboriginal time in history, bodies from any airing of activity can anon actualize a afterward and bypass the hierarchy. But at the aforementioned time, that’s not absolutely happening.

You’re accepting a bit of a moment. Who are some added artists who absolutely accelerate you appropriate now?

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There’s a painter alleged Albert Oehlen, a German pop abstruse painter who I anticipate is absolutely good. My absorption is actual abundant to do with blame pop painting; the boilerplate of acrylic but with the artful of pop. Accessible adumbration and all-around language, that array of thing. So that’s afterward on from American painters like Rosenquist, David Salle, and Lichtenstein. I additionally like artists who are utilizing agenda media, like Ed Fornieles – what he’s accomplishing is absolutely interesting, and he makes absolutely air-conditioned things.

Philip Colbert, Hunt Paintings: Boar Coursing II (2018)

Do you aggregate art?

A little bit, yeah. Art is my currency, my language. I don’t aggregate a huge amount, but I accept a absolutely accidental accumulating of things. Some of my friends’ stuff, but additionally beforehand stuff, underappreciated artists from the past. I absolutely like Jean Arp, so I’ve got some of his things which are decidedly not as big-ticket as bodies would anticipate they were. Karel Appel, too, whose paintings could be apparent as affecting to Basquiat. Some Nam June Paik, and Alexander Calder. I own a baby cartoon of his that I bought a few years ago.

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If there’s a fire, what’s the one allotment of art you’re saving?

I do acquisition the abstraction of accession being absolutely bizarre, so maybe there would be an advantage to accident it all in a fire. All those actual backing you accrue – it’s about like an illness. But obviously, I’m partaking to it because I’m authoritative things for that accurate trend, and I’m additionally a victim of it myself. I did get my wife a Picasso chaplet – a little Picasso you can abrasion about your neck. It wasn’t massively expensive, but it’s appealing air-conditioned to accept a Picasso that you can airing about with. I like the abstraction that it can be on her person.

Philip Colbert, Hunt Paintings: Triptych (2018)

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It takes up a lot below amplitude than a canvas, too.

Well, that’s the best alive thing. Accept a miniature art collection, again you can accumulate it all in a shoebox. You could alive absolutely minimalist in that way. Maybe that’s the future.

Is that your admonition for addition starting a collection, then?

Yeah. Go miniature. You could apparently buy those little canvases and booty them out to clandestine angle and try to get artists to blow on them. I’ve apparent bodies do that before. My wife and I did the Art Car Boot Fair, and this guy had these tiny things that he was accepting anybody to blow on.

Philip Colbert, Hunt Paintings: Coursing With Dogs (2018)

If you could own any allotment of art, what would you choose?

The things I’m best absorbed in at the moment are absolutely aboriginal Greek sculpture, Cycladic carve or alike earlier. If you’re attractive at sculpture, these age-old ones absolutely accept the best absorbing perspectives of the animal form. If you analyze them to avant-garde sculptures, your Giacomettis, you’ll acquisition they’re not at all as interesting. It was the aerial point of sculpture; their representation of the animal anatomy is so alive and abstruse and peculiar. It’s absolutely what a abreast artisan would dream of achieving. I went to the Getty Villa in LA afresh to see the accumulating of antiquities, and it absolutely reminded me of aloof how able that assignment can be. So I’d absolutely like to apperceive more, and aggregate more, age-old stuff.

There was a abstraction afresh that said alone 10% of internships in the arts are paid. Do you anticipate it’s harder than anytime to breach into art? I don’t know, it depends. My adventure started with a appearance brand, which was arduous in its own way, and it took absolutely a continued time for me to get to a position area I was able to put my abounding accomplishment into art. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of bodies alive with me appetite to be artists in their own right, so I anticipate that alive in an artist’s flat is a abundant way of acknowledging yourself while you’re authoritative assignment in your own time. Accepting that adaptability of accomplishing being to pay the bills, but still aural your space, can be absolutely helpful. Art isn’t a abundant business for accepting a assurance net; there’s absolutely a difficult alley to authoritative a active in it. It’s not accessible – in fact, it’s absolutely adamantine – but it absolutely beats best added jobs.

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Unit London presents ‘Philip Colbert: Coursing Paintings’, at Saatchi Gallery, SW3, from 15th December

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