Phillip Thomas


Phillip Thomas was born in Kingston Jamaica on February 20, 1980.  Upon graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston Jamaica, Phillip Thomas received a grant from the Cobb Family Foundation as well as a scholarship from the C.H.A.S.E Fund to study and complete a Master’s degree in New York. He completed his studies at the New York Academy of Art, where he graduated at the top of his class and was awarded a fellowship from the Academy.

At the end of his Master’s and during his fellowship year, Phillip produced works that dealt with issues of colonialism in the Caribbean, and many of the issues of classism that persists in Jamaica and the New World, even today. As an artist who is fluctuating between the Americas in a sort of nomadic sense, he developed a very clear picture of the ways in which different cultures of the region have dealt with the issues of colonialism as well as post-colonial conflicts. His work began to ask questions about social identity, in a way that would challenge many traditions about the very subject in Jamaica, critiquing Jamaican culture and its willfully invisible middle-class as well as their relationship with the masses. As one can imagine, presenting the Jamaican image from a multi-cultural perspective raises questions of unease.

As one would expect, multi-culturalism begets xenophobia. This then means that civility becomes the explicit currency of social trade, whilst savagery remains the implicit intent. Phillip’s work takes those behavioral extremities as subjects of exploration in his work, using images and circumstances that reflect those antithetical positions. Phillip is “technically” an oil painter; however, he considers the use of materials to be as displaced as the subjects he creates with it. The very nature of the language and mediums of oil paints speaks to the tradition of image making in the west. A mixture of oil paints, tar, and bauxite earth are just some of the materials he has employed to produce images that reflect the kind of social cross-pollination that is discussed in the subject. Traditional painting techniques come up against an idiosyncratic use of other materials in conjunction with the imagery that demands that kind of polyglot. This use of material “simulates” and expresses technically what is discussed textually, and gives the viewer the presentation of an image that is not seamlessly constructed, but more so, one that presents the image and its “seams” or “stitches.” No attempt is made to mend oppositely sourced materials. The unlikely juxtaposition of the imagery is then reflected using media. This then becomes a means by which the artists can discuss both the language and the subject simultaneously, creating a discourse between the language of painting as well as the subject it is used to explore.


Phillip Thomas manufactures cultural reliquaries, consisting of artifacts and social curiosities that represent the cultural tapestry of the Caribbean and the wider “New World”, using media and other agents of the Old World. The “old master” painting style and the large, conventional painting formats are not used for the sake of the representation per sebut as artifacts of art history.  Hence the entire object produced (consisting of stretcher bars, frames, oil paints, and all the other elements and media that make up such objects) is a manifestation of an archeological response to agents of the Old World as well as products of the new. This allows for a kind of meta-discourse between the originals and derivatives of Western art history which speaks to the nature of colonialism and its aftermath.

“Even my decision to study at the New York Academy of Art, a traditionalist ‘French Academy’ in the United States, is rooted in my interest in cross-cultural pollination. My work is concerned with specific Old World cultures that are relevant to the Caribbean, predominantly the English, the French and the Spanish. Each of these cultures is reflected in the body of works presented. ‘Master Copies’ of Turner, Ribera and sections of Velazquez’ paintings are fused into the discourse of my paintings, not as mere hints of artistic influence but also as cultural relics.”



2006–2008        New York Academy of Art, New York, NY
Masters of Fine Arts, Honors – Painting
Acclamation for the most achieved student of the graduating class
1998-2003        Edna Manley College, Saint Andrew, Jamaica
Bachelors in Visual and Performing Arts, Honors (Painting)
1997–1998        Portmore Community College, Saint Catherine, Jamaica
CXC – Engineering Drawing Distinction

2019         Mirrors of Desire, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2019        Uninterrupted, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2019        Fellows: Past and Present, New York Academy of Art, curated by Joyce Varvatos
2019        Coffee, Rhum, Sugar & Gold: A Postcolonial Paradox, MoAD, San Francisco, CA
2019        In Plain Sight: Rich in Black History, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY Moderated by Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo
2019        Artful Companions, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2018        BIG ART. small canvas. RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2018        Women Painting Women | Men Painting Men: Voices with Vision, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2018        Kiss and Tell, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2018        On the Edge of…, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2018        RJD Gallery at Market Art + Design,Bridgehampton, NY
2018        Beyond Fashion, National Gallery of Jamaica
2018        Secrets of the Twisted and Entwined, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2018        A Brief History, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2017        No Commission, The Dean Collection, Miami, FL
2017        Back to Black, Art Africa, Miami Arts Fair, Miami, FL
2017        I am (In) Visible, RD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2017        Urban Revival, RJD Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
2016        Digital, National Gallery of Jamaica
2016 Masculinities,National Gallery of Jamaica
2016        Pieces of My Soul, Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2016        Parallel Universe, Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2016        Barbed Wire & Picket Fences, Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2015        Recollections & Realities | A Figurative Focus, Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2015        A Magic Menagerie, Richard J. Demato Fine Arts Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2014- 15 National Biennial, National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica.
2014       Shattered BoundariesRJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2014       Art SouthamptonArt Fair,New York Academy of Art Booth, Southampton, NY
2014       ArtHamptonsArt Fair, RJD Gallery Booth, Bridgehampton, NY
2014       LA Art Show, RJD Gallery Booth, Los Angeles, CA
2013       ArtHamptons Art Fair, RJD Gallery Booth, Bridgehampton, NY
2012-13  National Biennial, National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica.
2012       Take Home a Nude,Sotheby’s Auction House, New York, NY
2012       Contemporary Jamaican Art, Circa 1962-2012, Art Gallery of Mississauga, Ontario Curated by Veerie Poupeye
2011        Solo Exhibition,Civil Savages,RJD Gallery, Sag Harbor, NY
2011        Contemporary Jamaican Artists, The Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC
2010      National Biennial, National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica
2010       Take Home a Nude,Sotheby’s Auction House, New York, NY
2010       Young Talent 5, Kingston Jamaica, The National Gallery Of Jamaica
2009       Social Curiosities, New York, NY
2009 An exhibition of new work by the three 2008-09 Fellows of the New York Academy of Art Summer Exhibition 2009, New York, NY. Juried by Eric Fischl, Matthew Flowers and Anne Strauss, New York Academy of Art
2008       Group exhibition: Michael Heffernan Matthew Miller Phillip Thomas, New York, NY
2008 Flowers Gallery New York
2008 Master Thesis Exhibition, New York, NY
2008     New York Academy of Art Man Hunt!New York, NY
2008       New York Academy of Art, Under 40 Artist of the Year Competition, Kingston Jamaica
2006     The Mutual Life Gallery, awarded the People’s Choice Award
Revelations of a Changing Generation, Kingston Jamaica
2006     Hue Dunphy Gallery
2006 National Biennale of Jamaica, Kingston Jamaica
2005     National Gallery of Jamaica
2005 Final Year Exhibition, Kingston Jamaica
2003     Edna Manley College

2019    Small Axe, A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, Cover and feature
2014    Callaloo Art, Inaugural Issue
2014    American Art Collector August Edition, Vol. 106, “Shattered Boundaries” Show Preview
2013    ARC Magazine, “Dethroning the Nation: Redefining Realism in the work of Phillip Thomas”
2013     NY Times: Upcoming Art Events announcing the opening of “Enchanted Impressions”
2011     “About Changes in Latin America and the Caribbean” World Bank
2010     “Jamaican Art Then and Now” edited, Petrine Archer Aaron Matalan Award:
2008     National Biennale of Jamaica, Kingston Jamaica
First prize in The National Gallery of Jamaica’s National Biennial, the premier national art exhibition in Jamaica.
2008      New York Academy of Art Fellowship: New York Academy of Art, New York, NY Awarded annually, includes studio accommodation, stipend and             major    exhibition at the Academy
2006     Chase Grant: Chase Fund Organization, Kingston Jamaica Financial grant for most promising artist to pursue masters of fine art degree
2006     Smile Jamaica: TV’s Morning Television Program, Kingston Jamaica
Major Jamaican television broadcasting network interview for recipient of the Chase Fund masters of fine arts grant
2003     Gleaner Art Review: Gleaner Newspaper, Kingston Jamaica
2003     Highlighted in Jamaica’s major newspaper review of Edna Manley College exhibition Artists in Studio: Radio Mona, Kingston Jamaica. Major Jamaican radio station’s one on one interview of an artist’s process in painting.
2003     Albert Huey Painters Award: Edna Manley College, Kingston Jamaica

Bader Bin Abdullah Al Saud
Bank of Jamaica, Kingston
Peggy Cooper Cafritz
The Chetrit Group, New York, NY
Beth Rudin DeWoody
Bryant Gumbel
The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Charlotte, North Carolina
New York Academy of Art, New York, NY
Kolleen Russell
Anne L. Stone
World Bank, Washington DC
Fatima Zayed






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