The years 1993 and 1994 were bum years for Richard Phillips. Creative years too, since that was when he made the thirty-odd drawings in this portfolio. With the air so cold and the heat not working and the rent going unpaid for eight months, Phillips, working in his kitchen, conjured one image after another: a homeless man is burned alive by a thug; a deranged blonde cuddles with a white rabbit, certain they must be sisters; a monumental god carved into a temple at Angkor Wat mirrors the face of Alice Cooper—two gods in one! Phillips’s sources were discarded newspapers, but if you look behind the mottled surfaces the pictures really derive from the conflicted state of his soul.
Each of these drawings is a complete work, none were intended only as studies. “They were meant to be entertaining,” Phillips tells author Linda Yablonsky, “but they also pushed me to go farther and farther.” Ultimately, these drawings gave Phillips the freedom to paint. What they give us is the power to see through the dark.