Phil Bower’s paintings depict real people in real landscapes, not staged presentations.  In truth these nudists are captured in a rare moment for a human being…engaged in a utopian lifestyle, au naturel in a Garden of Eden, without any judgement or hang-ups. They are unaware of the opportunists lurking behind bushes and on cliff tops, or lazing beside them with cameras secreted away under a towel or blanket. It is through this voyeurism and perversion that Bower receives his source material, but by painting his subjects without irony, in full embrace of the contexts and glories of nude figures in art history, the artists subverts the exploitation of the nudists and returns the subject matter to a higher plane… hopefully equal in spirit to the figures depicted.

Images are culled from websites that broadcast voyeur videos of European and Russian nudists caught lounging and frolicking on expansive beaches, or sneaking into nearby forests for intimate encounters. The artist produces a digital photograph from a screen grab of a purchased video to serve as a “model” for the paintings. The source videos are often poor in quality, shot in a guerrilla style from vantages behind foliage or from odd angles. Often the artist chooses to crop and zoom into the video frame, which further degrades the photographic information available. This is to Bower’s advantage as he exploits the nebulous, low-resolution blurs and pixilation; translating the information into highly realized oil paintings that carve out territory in contemporary painting by uniquely blending photorealistic techniques with an intuitive and exploratory palette that is rife with startling glazes and metallic colors.

Education

M.F.A. University of Southern California, Los Angeles
B.F.A. University of California, Santa Cruz, CA

Solo Exhibitions

2014 Samuel Freeman, Los Angeles, CA
2010 After Women, Carl Berg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2008 New Paintings, Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, MA
2007 Figures In Landscapes, Carl Berg Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2006 New Paintings, Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, MA
2005 New Paintings, Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, MA
2003 Phil Was Here, Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, MA
2002 A Brief Mystery of Time, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
2001 Handsome and Bulletproof, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
2000 The End of the Day, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
1997 New Blue Chip Paintings, Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York, NY
1996 Exquisite Taxidermy, Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2009 Garage Sale, Serieuze Zaken Sudioos, Amsterdam
Manifestation, Carl Berg Projects, Los Angeles
2008 A Blvd. Called Wilshire, Serieuze Zaken Studioos, Amsterdam
2006 American Painting, Kidder Smith Gallery, Boston, MA
2000 Works on Paper, Spencer Brownstone Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Liz Balough
1999 Abject Edge, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA curated by Mat Gleason
1998 L.A. Cool, Rocket Gallery, London, England, curated by David Pagel
1994 The Group, Spanish Kitchen, Los Angeles, CA
1993 DADA, Los Angeles, CA
DADA Best of Show, Los Angeles, CA curated by Jon Peterson
1990 L.A.C.E. Annual, Los Angeles, CA