Glamour is the first word that comes to mind when examining the rich, vivid paintings of Richard Phillips. He began painting in the 1990s, relying on subject matter from old fashion and pornographic magazines from the 1960s and 1970s. Recalling the glamorous gorgeous faces triumphed, Phillips strives to update this style he combines the flashy with the intimate, portraits of individuals, some celebrity, some not, which can be viewed as political and critical. Pop art strategist, such as Tom Wesselmann and Mel Ramos, as well as 1970s Photo-realist master Chuck Close are main influences in a painterly sense, but Phillips reaches for something deeper, if only a soft emptiness that exposes vulnerability of subject matter.
In Horizontal Blonde, one of the artist's most celebrated works, a lucious Marilyn Monroe-like woman is staring out at us, eyes half open, slack-jawed. She is lovely but suffering some, a stance that has come to symbolize the archetypal tortured beauty. Are we seeing her the morning after a rough night of partying? Along with Marilyn, she calls to mind the rock-and-roll women of the 1970s-Deborah Harry, Pat Benatar, Anne Wilson and Stevie Nicks. As the title indicates, she is laying down (implying sex), a night of partying (drugs) or dancing esctatically (rock-and-roll).
In a synergy of contemporary painting and music, Horizontal Blonde is featured on the cover of an album entitled "The Days of Our Nights" by Luna a British rock band that owes a debt to the now classic sounds 1970s American rock-and-roll, but tinged with the British Mod sound of the 1990s.