Phillip McCrum


The following series appeared in the exhibition Tear, at the Or gallery in Vancouver.

The portraits presented here are part of a continuing study of different types of portraiture from standardized iconography to the personal. The people depicted here are mediated people. Most of them are communists because they were the most popular in the 90’s, when these portraits were made. The artist here addresses the personal cult surrounding the image from the cultural regime of communism that was salient at the time. Simultaneously, capitalism uses those same images to demonize the system and propagate the idea of leisure and individualism.

“[...] Phillip McCrum also examines the nature of representation, using the portrait form as a metaphor for the way meaning is constructed by both ‘high art’ and the mass media. [...] Through his manipulation of ‘head shots’ of famous and anonymous people (subjects range from porn stars to politicians and from criminals to the artist’s own friends), McCrum subverts the claims of power, privilege and authority that portraits, for centuries, have made.”

— Saturday Review