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Gastrosofía del amor. Philip West

Philip West Collection
Foundation’s Funds 

Eugenio Granell defined Surrealism as a way of life aimed at exalting man by means of love, poetry and freedom, following the essentials of the movement established by André Breton. His great friend Philip West highlights in his work the theme of love (according to its different definitions), turning it into a poetic gesture of freedom and creating a profound philosophical reflection; in the words of Raúl Henao (in his text about the artist: Philip West, La gastrosofía del amor1, Philip West is the painter of love, never that of the idyllic or bucolic reconciliation of present-day models, reminding us better than other painters that love is a matter of gastronomy, of “gastrosophy”, in which each of us serves on a silver platter for the delightful palate of the other…
 All the exhibited works belong to the Granell Foundation’s collection. In this case, the exhibition shows us part of the legacy Philip West donated to the institution in 1997.

Born in York (England) in 1949, Philip West was a genuine product of British surrealism, although he was born after the dispersion of the original surrealist group created by the artists E.L.T. Mesens and Roland Penrose.
From early on, he chose and decided to go against the tide. He was not interested in following the precepts of American abstract expressionism, nor those of pop art or incipient conceptual art, which was dominant in those years. He realised that his was a different kind of expression. West therefore decided to begin his artistic career by means of positions close to Surrealism, which was then one of the ways of expression used in the minority circles of England’s Underground. And the artist also pointed, as one of the possible reasons behind his adoption of Surrealism, apart from its libertarian ethics, to the magnificent collection of surrealism art in the museum in Brighton, where he studied Fine Arts and History of Art. He was also strongly influenced during his formative years by artists such as Magritte, Di Chirico and Max Ernst.
He began his artistic work in the early sixties. At the beginning he was a member of the small group created by the writer John Lyle of Transformation magazine. Later on he contributed to the Danish surrealist magazine Brumes Blondes, by means of which he began working with the historical surrealist group Phases; mainly in France, Holland, Portugal and Belgium. Shortly thereafter he left his home country and moved to Spain, more specifically to Aragon. After a short stay in our country, he decided to move to Venezuela, eventually coming back to Aragon, where he worked with different surrealist groups, among which his participation in together with Eugenio Granell stands out.
 n 1997  Philip West donated to the Granell Foundation an extensive collection of his work, as well as his personal library featuring numerous publications (catalogues, books, magazines and brochures) on surrealism.

Some key aspects of his work:
Some elements stand out in all of the artist’s work from the beginning: bright colour, a type of drawing that is not related to illustration, and great interest in naturalism, minute descriptive and display detail of scientific2 appearance, in which everything is arranged to “facilitate” the comprehension of his works.
He defends automatism as a creative concept and work methodology: “When I work I don’t think, creative art is the experience. Then comes the analysis, but this always takes place afterwards.”
Every represented object refers to several associations of ideas, which are formed in a metaphorical way. In many cases, this metamorphosis is the result of the union of representations of the natural organic world with other artificial objects of everyday use, the product of industrial manufacturing.
The tendency towards metamorphosis in his plastic work is directly related to his perception of life and art, in the words of the artist himself: “I accept surrealism, not as a pictorial style but rather as a way of seeing life. Surrealism is not the production of oneiric texts and images, or of a closed philosophy. There is metamorphosis and, as a surrealist, I’m not the same as ten years ago. For me, now, surrealism is living life as if it were a poem. Since I don’t know where I’m going, I try to enjoy the trip…”

1Raúl Henao: Philip West o la gastrosofía del amor. Caracas, Venezuela, 28 de junio de 1981. Catálogo: Philip West. El legado de un artista. Fundación Eugenio Granell, Santiago de Compostela, 1998.
2Antonio Garrido: Un homenaje a la libertad, el amor y la poesía. Catálogo: Philip West. El legado de un artista. Fundación Eugenio Granell, Santiago de Compostela, 1998.