These drawings are often made with music playing in the studio. It has the effect of centering the artist's thought and providing a score on which to build a drawing.
The artist sees this approach to drawing as akin to the process of improvisation in Jazz music. Establishing a rhythm to the work process allows for fortuitous events to happen. Making one mark leads to the advent of another, working the space between the marks as well as the marks themselves is an integral part of the process.
Often Philip will draw in natural or compressed charcoal (two very different media in quality of blackness) and then smudge and carve back into the drawing with large erasers opening up the white space and softening the marks. Unlike music, drawing allows the artist to go back in and edit and modify the original gestures. With luck and application, a sense of balance emerges from this process.
Left Handed Koan
Space Time continuum 2016
Philip's monochrome drawings are a form of research for him, they allow the artist to experiment freely with patterns and marks and to look for balance in the relationships between those discrete marks and the space surrounding them.
A major influence on the artist have been the patterns he sees in architecture and nature. The unglazed stone windows of Indian temples, the microscopic structures that reveal themselves in electron microscopy, incredible photos of deep space and the amazing patterns of leaves and thorns found in desert plants, all these reveal connections of a graphic nature.
These drawings often start without a clear notion of where the work is going, one mark follows the other, with each action reacting to the sum of previous actions. Its a process of internal research, experiment and discovery. As the drawing evolves, references from nature emerge and become part of the work, these are not planned but rely instead on the notion that memory and the subconscious can spontaneously emerge as a result of methodical and rhythmic work.
Dangling on the edge
Next step out the window
Lost In Space
Philip's color drawings continue his mostly gestural and improvisational approach to drawing. He often works with blues or jazz music playing in the studio. The drawing gestures strive for a rhythmic approach, creating series of strokes and marks that eventually build up into patterns.
These color drawings in many ways resemble his monochrome works in process, they do however have the added complexity of interaction between colors and tones. Often the colors he uses originate in observations of color combinations in nature. He has recently been particularly fascinated by the colors of the Southern California landscape and deserts that surround his base in Los Angeles.
Arc en Ciel
artificial horizon 2
pastel and charcoal on paper
Paintings on canvas
Working on large canvases is something relatively new to Philip Vaughan, in the last ten years of so he has shown increasing interest in working on this scale.
These works originated with drawings based on fields of grass. The subject matter first came to him while on an extended expedition in Colombian Amazonia some 40 years ago with his friend Peter Silverwood Cope. Living in a forest where the environment is predominantly made up of vertical band of trees with spectacular lighting and where distance is limited to at most a 100 meters, due to the in-fill effect of the forest. That idea then became a constant in his work, culminating in a series of drawings based on fields of tall grass that the artists started in Norfolk, UK where the artist regularly visited his aging mother Anne in the early 2000s. That time in razor flat Norfolk, a favorite county of Philip's where he had himself lived in earlier days, became a serious influence on his work. The led to a progression of compositions comprised of sticks or bands that grew increasingly geometrical with time.
These works are painted on stretched raw canvas stapled to a smooth studio wall. The paint is applied thinly in washes, allowing the translucence of the canvas to show through giving the effect at times of stained glass.
Some of these works play with the notion of impossible geometries, where bands weave in and out of each other in ways that resemble Escheresque geometries. Some of the newer works in this series are looser and show more of a hand-made feel.
Walking Tall 2013
cool breeze 2013
Brighton Beach 2013
Pulling out 2014
Polar space 2005
These drawings relate to Philip Vaughan's hometown. As a very young child his parents moved to Le Havre in northern France. His father had spent the war preparing for the Normandy D-Day landings and specifically the construction of the Mulberry harbors.
Philip was born right after the end of the War in Europe, his childhood was spent playing amongst the war ruins, seeing the destruction and wondering how that had come about. These drawings are an attempt to explore those momentous events, his father's life (his father died when he was still a young boy) so they never really discussed this in depth and the ocean that all this occurred on. These drawings probe a part of history he never directly experienced, yet he and his family lived through its aftermath, the surrounding environmental carnage and the many stories of occupation told by their neighbors.
Philip Vaughan embarked on his first public art project right after he graduated from Chelsea Art School. That work was the result of a recommendation from Norbert Lynton to enter a competition to develop a landmark work to draw attention to the Hayward Gallery, on London's South Bank. The work is 48ft tall, uses neon lighting attached to a steel geodesic frame and a sophisticated dimming control system and weather sensors. It opened in 1972 and has been in continuous operation since then with the exception of the last few years. It is now under renovation.
Later Philip also developed a number of illuminated works in the UK and several other projects in the US and Japan. He is still actively pursuing projects like these
Hayward Gallery Facade with Light Tower 1972-2016
Light Tower, Hayward gallery 1972
Photo Credit: Ian Dawson
48ft steel geodesic tower, neon, dimming electronics animate the sculpture based on inputs from weather sensors. Currently under renovation.
Jubilee Tower, Walsall UK, 1977
60ft high steel lattice tower with cable bracing to earth anchors, neon lighting, custom electronics
Erected in City park
Jubilee Tower under construction, 1977
Bede Tower, Jarrow Northumberland UK, 1978
50ft steel tower braced with cables, neon, electronics
Fibonacci Fountain, Kilroy Westside center, los Angeles
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Light Forest concept, Porta Moda, Carthage, Tunisia, 2009
Since early days at Chelsea Art School, Philip has been fascinated by the use of light as a medium, this has grown into a recurring area of interest for him, which he continues to work on to this day. It grew out of a notion that sculpture and painting could reach out into the time dimension, much as hand-drawn animation does.
Philip uses electronic controls and subtle dimming power supplies to choreograph to motion of these works. Most pieces comprise of static lighting elements, often he choses neon for its haunting luminosity and intensity of colors. These light tubes are animated and given life through sequential control. The technology for this work has continued to evolve.