A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY AND AESTHETIC OF PHILLIP CHAN
Born in China, Phillip Chan came to America at the age of ten. He lived for several years in Cleveland and then spent his formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Receiving his MFA from the University of California at Berkeley in 1976, he first taught part-time for a couple of years in the Bay Area followed by fourteen years as an itinerant teacher throughout America. In 1992, he settled in Ohio, teaching at Youngstown State until his retirement in 2011. Currently living in San Diego, California, Mr. Chan remains a committed and active artist.
The mind/body dichotomy has been an important part of Mr. Chan’s aesthetic since his days as a graduate student. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, that interest took the form of what he describes as “antipaintings” in which the physical use of the paint asserted its materiality to the point of undermining pictorial representation, questioning the very status of the discipline, thereby. From the late 1980’s onwards, Mr. Chan’s has focused primarily on images of “fallen angels.” The dialectic between the physicality of the medium and the inner life of the fallen angels takes on a physical/metaphysical tension that expresses what he terms as the “ultramaterial” dimension of the human existence. This ultramateriality is the synthesis between the elemental and the metaphysical, which makes it possible for humanity to find deep meaning within existence. In these paintings, Mr. Chan has moved beyond mere painting concerns to the triangular intersection between painting, metaphysics, and the human spirit.