Review on Phillip James Frost by Ralph Body printed in the Otago Daily Times 31/3/2011

The drawn and painted works of Phillip James Frost possess a visual and emotional rawness, alongside a strange elusiveness. The stressed surfaces of his works on paper are littered with partially effaced imagery and scrawled text which defies legibility. Some feature elements of collage, which adds further texture to these marked, splattered and torn sheets of paper.

 Frost’s imagery ranges from consumer culture to medical-textbook illustrations. However, these subjects which usually appear slick or precise instead convey a sense of disintegration. Some are roughly sketched in an unstable, graffiti-like manner.

Other works recall the appearance of a poster, pasted up outdoors and progressively worn away by the elements, allowing fragments of earlier posters, pasted below, to show through. Particularly striking is Five Fingers, which suggests an overpainted line drawing of the lungs and windpipe. The clinical restraint of an image conceived as diagram gives way to myriad chaotic colours and multidirectional brush marks that simultaneously augment and obliterate the image.

 In this and many other works, a central burst of energy seems to spiral outwards into the surrounding area. Teeth, by contrast, is painted in an all-over manner, appearing like a rainfall of extracted canines and incisors.


Phillip James Frost Review By Naomi Boult

Philip Frost’s current show Paper Work at a gallery proves to be a cohesive exhibition of the artist’s recent work, complete with the customary pop-culture references as well as more personal themes.  The uniformity of his style works particularly well in the gallery, the austerity of the walls and space being the perfect foil for Frost’s bold colours and chaotic collage.

At times Frost’s work can be exceptional, when he seems to possess an instinctual ability to work with composition and colour to make something that has inherent beauty.  The most striking example of this in his latest show is Head in a Box; a work that brings to mind taxonomical classifications, phrenology and deranged collectors of the macabre.   As dark and unsettling as it is, the work has a strange allure created by exquisite use of shadowy, muted shades and the off center configuration of the imagery.  This work, although it sits rather uncomfortably with his others, exemplifies the admirable work Frost is periodically able to deliver.

The collaged works in Paper Work can occasionally appear formulaic, but Frost avoids saturating his audience with stale imagery by including a few compositions of varying technique.  One such example of his departure from rote is his piece Untitled (2011) which depicts a cosmonaut adrift in a sea of fingerprints which evoke the stylistic legacy of the late Sigmar Polke. 

This show predominantly consists of works that we have come to expect from Frost, containing allusions to contemporary culture with varying levels of success.  It is the inclusion of pieces which signal a different direction for the artist, however, that prevents this show from becoming overly predictable and merits heading to Princes Street to view.

Philip James Frost, Paper Work is showing at a gallery, 393 Princes Street until April 2nd, 2011