Butterfly

The Sexy, Sentimental and Stupid Works of Phillip Lý

March 2-7, 2020 at the Ada Slaight Student Gallery, OCADU, Toronto, ON


Phillip Lý’s photo work speaks to the sexy, sentimental and stupid. Their photos, both staged and candid, capture Phil’s everyday, which is sometimes lighthearted, as well as heartfelt and sincere. In Butterfly, Phil portrays their friends and family with care, juxtaposed with food, coming together to represent the artist’s interest in the social realm. Phil Lý’s work is a played up product of their surroundings and the Rolodex of pop culture that they collect. The colours they use in their still lives are saturated and bright, opening up the possibilities of food as subject. Their portrait work is visually softer. In works like The Gate (2019), the composition of subjects pay respect to art history, and the lighting is almost otherworldly. In Grandma Eating Lunch (2019), Phil’s interest in food and family relationships converge, placing the viewer at a unique point of view in which they are sharing a meal with Phil’s grandma.
In its entirety, the body of work presented in Butterfly is a point of access to an artist’s conversation with their surroundings. As a body of work, Butterfly portrays the social gatherings of queer people, and additionally highlights the innately social characteristics of eating. Phil’s work captures domestic spaces, perfectly untouched in a city constantly in flux, and preserves moments that are uniquely their own. With work that is distinctly beautiful and surreal, Butterfly represents an artist maturing through the lens of magical realism.