Ruth’s paintings explore abstraction through colour, light and surface. They often emerge from encounters with place, walking and the everyday to convey a sensory experience of the physical and metaphysical, combining inner and outer states, conscious and subconscious. They can become places to dwell in or contemplate, where one can explore the otherness of the past and future in the present. As Maurice Merleau-Ponty wrote How would the painter or poet express anything other than his (her) encounter with the world.
Perception of a painting as a physical presence is paramount, as well as its continuing cultural significance in occupying the gaze. The sustained contemplation involved in looking can provide a moment of transformation, in a similar way to experiencing an altarpiece in the Renaissance.
The materiality of the paint and the process of painting play a significant role in the work. Ruth often makes her own paint from earths and pigments found whilst walking or travelling and enjoys combining these with different binders including oils, acrylics and distemper. A variety of surfaces are used including canvas and linen (stretched and unstretched), wooden panels and paper.
Ruth also works on collaborative projects connected with place and communities to engage with a wide range of audiences through events, walking, drawing, film and installation.
Ruth Philo studied at the University of Warwick and Norwich University of the Arts and has a BA in History of Art and MA in Fine Art. Exhibitions have included solo shows at Westminster Library and M2 Gallery, Peckham and a joint show with Yves Beaumont at Studio 1.1. She has exhibited work regularly in the UK and abroad, including the US, China, Germany, Italy, Poland and Romania. Her work has been selected for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and is to be found in collections in the UK, US, Switzerland and China. Ruth also works on curatorial projects that have included ‘Lines for Agnes’ at St Marylebone Parish Church, London and ‘Ways of Seeing’ at the Boat House Gallery, (NT) Flatford. She was an artist selector for the 2018 Contemporary British Painting Prize and is currently secretary of the group.