BA Honors | Painting & Drawing
My name is Marc Philippon and I grew up in Vail, Colorado, where I spent the majority of my life until moving to South Bend, Indiana to study at the University of Notre Dame. I am a studio art major with a pre-health supplementary major and will be applying to medical school this summer. Though I plan to pursue a career in healthcare, art has played a significant role in my life since before I can remember. Drawing and painting have always been modes of recreating and understanding what I am fascinated by in the world around me. At the root of my current work is an interest in the way different groups of people are portrayed in the media and historical art and how this contributes to the construction of identity and self-understanding.
Blending classical portraiture with kitsch and decorative art, my work seeks to address the rigid barriers created by gender roles in the tradition of oil painting, as well as in the presentation and expression of male identity. I use vivid colors and surrealist imagery inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses to portray a lively depiction of the male body blooming with various plants and flowers that exist together as a unified organism. Through these depictions, I try to counter the idea of man as a domesticator of the natural world and instead portray a more harmonious and integrated relationship with nature.
One of the ways in which I convey this relationship is through the theme of seasons. Theorists such as Julia Kristeva and Henry Lefebvre have described female subjectivity as existing historically in cyclical time, characterized by repetition and natural cycles. Male-oriented time, in contrast, has been described as linear, represented by industrialization and technological progress. Growing up in a Colorado ski town whose economy and activity are heavily dependent on yearly weather patterns, I feel that the cyclical nature of the seasons more adequately resonates with my experience of the passage of time, as opposed to a progressive linear sequence of events. The figures presented in these portraits, therefore, are representations of the different seasons. Through the depiction of seasons, I present the male subject in cyclical time, governed by the recurring patterns of the natural world.
This series of paintings highlights how our understandings of various topics are often constructed through binary relationships based on gender. I create this work in response to the influence of gender roles and the subconscious pressures present throughout my life to fulfill the expectations of masculinity as a straight male. Rejecting these strict distinctions through the use of satire and irony is liberating for me and aims to contribute to the deconstruction of hierarchies of value that arise from these relationships.