What at first looks like a self-imposed limitation of “one color per canvas” actually enables Phil Sims to achieve something remarkable, i.e. to allow color to be both a motif and an object. It therefore comes as no surprise when we learn that Sims himself was often at pains to emphasize that he does not paint yellow, green or blue pictures, but that he paints Yellow, Green or Blue. From the start, Sims used elaborate methods of priming his paintings in order to achieve the desired color intensity and to develop a structure out of the paint. Typically, however, he applied the paint in numerous layers and in accordance with a pattern of horizontal and vertical brush strokes. Then as now, an essential aspect of his work was to reveal the image-developing application of paint to the canvas an object of experience for the beholder. Here, it is not necessarily a matter of a monochrome painting. As a matter of fact, the color that the beholder perceives on the surface is actually the product of many layers of different colors. Thanks to the thin, glazing application of the paint, the various colors can be seen to permeate one another and the light is allowed to penetrate these layers to such an extent that they become visible as such. In addition to the mixture of the various layers of color, the manner in which the paint is applied (brush direction and volume of paint per layer) and the image format play a crucial role in Sims’ works. These enable a visualization of conditions which are actually outside of the paintings: the room in which they are hung, the light that reflects them and the time in which they move us as beholders. Sims succeeds in making color a subject of both visual and emotional experience.
Born in Richmond in 1940, lives and works in Pennsylvania (USA).