Spotlight

Feature Storyteller and self-taught painter Cece Philips

Championed by Mollie E Barnes
The Wick - Old Friend Encounter by Cece Philips
Above  Old Friend Encounter by Cece Philips
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The Wick - Cece Philips
Above  Cece Philips
Interview
Cece Philips
27 October 2021
Interview
Cece Philips
27 October 2021
Keen to address gender and equality disparity in the art world, curator Mollie E Barnes founded She Curates in 2020, a platform and community aimed at championing the voices and stories of women and non-binary artists. Through this initiative she has interviewed more than 300 women artists and curated exhibitions around the country.
In the same year, she first came across self-taught visual artist Cece Philips, who had decided to leave her job in advertising and pursue painting full time in spring 2020. Barnes fell for Philips’s unique style and choice of subjects. She says: “Since then, Cece has flourished, and is being rightly recognised around the world in 2021.”

Philips’s decision to study history at university is representative of her interest in stories and the narratives we construct from the past. She’s drawn to identity and femininity, and often uses archival writings and found historical photographs to inspire the figures she paints in her large-scale figurative oil works. Her current body of work explores the relationships between women and power, and how expressions of authority and influence have historically been depicted and how they can be re-imagined.

Barnes says: “Her works are sensitive, inviting the viewer to explore possible narratives around each sitter, and to question preconceived ideas around their stories.

“In her recent works, these characters often exist in voids of dark or light, rather than our known worlds. The interactions, either between subject and viewer, or between figures depicted, is what is important, and what is explored. They may share smiles, glances or knowing looks. The works often feel intimate, enclosed, as a snapshot of a wider conversation. Cece’s practice, focusing on the figures fixed onto faded scenes, injects life and beauty into the ordinary, or the missed. They are vibrant and immediately recognisable.

“I’m so impressed by everything I see from Cece and can’t wait to see what the rest of her career has in store.”

Philips’s first international solo show, ‘Memories of the Future’ at Post Gallery Zurich, opened on Monday and runs until 20 November. She will also be contributing to three group shows this coming winter, including ‘At Peace’, curated by Jade Foster at Gillian Jason Gallery. Philips says: “I’m really proud of the body of work I’ve created for my current solo show at Post Gallery, but in all honesty, I would consider my biggest achievement to date being able to sustain a career as an artist full-time.”

Philips is also attending the inaugural CloverMill Residency x She Curates collaboration in Amsterdam at the end of November 2021.

About the champion

The Wick - Feature Storyteller and self-taught painter Cece Philips

Curator, presenter, writer, arts host and gallery advisor, Mollie E Barnes has many strings to her bow and is a very active member of the London art community. She believes in genuine inclusivity in the arts and founded platform She Curates in 2020, five days into lockdown, to champion and celebrate womxn artists and art professionals. She’s also a Patron member of the Christie’s Education Young Collectors Club.

“[I] can’t wait to see what the rest of her career has in store.”

Place of Birth

London, UK

Education

Self-taught artist with a BA in History from the University of Bristol

Current/Upcoming Exhibitions

‘Memories of the Future’ at Post Gallery Zurich until 20 November, ‘At Peace’ at Gillian Jason Gallery in December, The ING Discerning Eye exhibition at Mall Galleries and a Post Gallery group show in Gstaad in December.


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