In his tightly orchestrated painting-installations, Phil Rabovsky probes classical thought, contemporary theory, and how history shapes our basic understanding of the world. Born in the frigid capital of a crumbling empire in 1987, Rabovsky grew up in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York with a lifelong appreciation for how epochs change. His work mines these transformations, fixing pieces of intellectual and cultural materials in the viewer’s space. Photographs, prints and paintings rub shoulders with walls, plants, furniture and everyday objects, all arranged around life-sized nudes painted in a manner both classical and contemporary. For Rabovsky, these humanist-inspired nudes carry outmoded ideas about beauty, truth, and progress that are sorely missing from contemporary discourse. His work both celebrates these ideals and examines them critically, tracing the intersections between bodies, language, art and power. By running classical thought through the sieve of contemporary theory, Rabovsky tries to break through the impasse of resistance politics into some kind of constructive space, somewhere after the eternal present of postmodern culture, where the project of world-building can begin again.
Phil Rabovsky (b. Moscow, 1987) grew up in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York. After receiving his BA in visual art, philosophy, and linguistics from Columbia University in 2009, he lived for a time in Budapest before resettling to New York City, where he completed his MFA in Art Practice at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in 2018. He has returned to SVA this fall in the capacity of visiting artist at the BFA program. Rabovsky is a member of Shoestring Press in Brooklyn, where he teaches classical painting techniques and has exhibited in two-person shows with printmaker Lane Sell. He has participated in group shows at Brooklyn and Manhattan-based galleries such as Shoestring Press, the Greenpoint Gallery, Friday Studio Gallery, Van Der Plas Gallery, and SVA’s Chelsea and Flatiron Galleries. His first solo show, Venticento, opened at Van Der Plas Gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 2018. Rabovsky’s work has been written about in Brooklyn Magazine and A Gathering of the Tribes, and featured in Tribes’ Word: An Anthology. His thoughts on art and culture occasionally appear in Tribes’ online magazine at tribes.org.