I studied architecture in Oxford before switching to Fine Art and History of Art at Reading University, and this led to my initial interest in an architectonic constructional approach to art, involving the application of systems in both two- and three-dimensional work. I started to paint in a more traditional way around 1995, but quickly evolved the technique I use today in which acrylic is applied at different thicknesses, and manipulated in various ways before being sanded down to a smooth finish. While there is a lot of variation between individual paintings, I think this reflects how my technique represents an attempt to make sense of the proliferating images that we receive today from TV, science, digital technology, and modern graphics. There is also an indication of my interest in maps, which present information abstractly via colour coding, symbols, contours, and different shapes.

A debate about the nature of abstract painting will always be a tortuous one. Personally I think that it has to be some kind of response to the visual world but there is a sense that the technological manipulation of images has distanced us in some way from their source and my technique has been partly shaped by this. This kind of detachment, almost alienation from the image source, which could be referred to by the German word ‘verfremdung' is emphasised by the smooth surface of my paintings which can appear at first to be like prints (and in some cases, with the occasional ‘pixellating' effect of brushmarks, as digital prints), the intention being to objectify elements of the painted image other than their expressive effect associated with gestural qualities of paint.

I have exhibited mostly in London and my work is in private collections both in the UK and abroad.


Phil Dobson in his studio
pic by Julian Dodd

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