Phillip Thomas

Phillip Thomas (b.1980) is a graduate of the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts where he gained both a certificate and diploma in Painting with honours (2003). He currently lives and studies in New York but continues to exhibit in Jamaica. In 2008 he won the Aaron Matalon Award for his outstanding contribution to that year's Jamaica National Biennial.

Phillip Thomas is considered a realist and he paints with an ease that demonstrates his sure draftsmanship and understanding of the human form. Yet there is more to his artistry than just representation. He harnesses the classical approach of the European masters to cloth and critique his contemporary black subjects. The result is portraits that are appealing because of their conventions and familiarity but also repulsive because of their perverse contradictory content. Black people become grotesque, deformed sitters manipulated by time and the artists facility to displace and reposition them in new historical settings. In The N Train (2008) his black subjects, huddle together as they make their way home. Like actors in an urban travesty they are depicted as medieval monsters, deformed, costumed, and burdened with the trappings of daily life. Through such stylised combinations of tradition and modernity, Thomas raises questions about race and identity and makes surreal judgments about the state of post-modern blackness today.