Birgitte Philippides



Artist's Bio



Birgitte V. Philippides

Birgitte V. Philippides was born on January 8, 1968 in Katonah, New York to a Danish mother and a Greek-Peruvian father. As a young girl, she was constantly taken to museums and art gallery shows by her mother, also a painter. She was exposed to some of the great museums of the world in London, Paris, Tokyo, Germany, Italy, Greece, Brazil, etc. and of course New York City. Growing up surrounded by art, by an early age, Birgitte knew that art would play a big part in her life.

In 1985, Birgitte left home to study Film and Television at Boston University and took summer courses in French and Art History in Paris at the Sorbonne and the American College in Paris. She eventually graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase with a degree in French and a minor in Spanish.

After university, Birgitte began working in television in New York City, first at "GERALDO" as Mr. Rivera's personal production assistant and then at "JOAN RIVERS" as Ms. Rivers Viewer Mail Coordinator. It was an exciting time for Birgitte and provided her with her initial immersion into New York's media world.

At this time, Birgitte was living in a painter's attic in Soho. At a restaurant one night, she met art dealer Vrej Baghoomian and one of his artists, Shenge Ka Pharaoh (a close associate of Jean-Michel Basquiat). Although she had no intention of becoming a painter at the time, this exposure to New York's contemporary art scene (Jeff Koons, Joseph Beuys, Quattara, Armann, Bernard Venet and most importantly the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat) intrigued Birgitte. She found the New York art scene mesmerizing and was particularly fascinated by Basquiat's work. Through her association with Baghoomian, Birgitte became intimately familiar with Basquiat's work, frequently spending time in the backroom of Baghoomian's Broadway gallery examining pieces. She found the rawness and child-like quality of Basquiat both captivating and inspiring.




She's So Glamorous Shortly after, Birgitte started painting by chance, in the summer of 1992. Her return home to her parents' house had made Birgitte miserable. In an attempt to cheer her up, her mother, Kirsten, placed a brush in Birgitte's hand one Saturday afternoon and told her to try to paint her mother's portrait. Birgitte at first resisted but eventually started to paint a child-like, abstract nude of a distraught female from both the front and the back. She painted the words above the figure, "She's So Glamorous."

The experience stuck, and soon after, she began to embellish her paintings with words and titles and subsequently came up with a distinct style of her own. The act of communicating what she felt inside and putting it on canvas was immediately a powerful experience for Birgitte, like a new language. She was able to express how she truly felt about many different things that she never had the courage to verbalize. Her early pieces, with titles like "She's Starving," "She's A Good Girl," "She Throws Up A Lot" and "She Eats Too Much" reflected her newfound empowerment, and were instrumental in helping her overcome a nine-year battle with bulimia.

While the sense of liberation that Birgitte found in painting was thrilling, to say the least, not everyone was so happy. Although her parents were the first to encourage Birgitte with her work (and supported her by buying supplies), her paintings caused quite a lot of pain within the family. Her mother was conflicted, simultaneously thrilled that her daughter was painting but horrified, tearful and embarrassed after seeing each piece that she finished. Her father was amused, but silent, and her brother was clearly mortified.



She's Starving Over the course of two months Birgitte painted a total of six pieces and then gave in to familial pressure. She hid her paintings in her childhood bedroom closet for six years and periodically rescued a few of them from her mother's garbage bin. Her painting had become too painful for everyone involved, it seemed.The following fall, Birgitte moved back to New York and pursued a career as a make-up artist.

On a shoot in May of 1998, Birgitte met a male model who was also a painter. He insisted she begin painting again, telling her, "It's obviously in your blood." Following his advice, by the end of the summer of 1998, Birgitte had completed several more works. This time courage won out over pain, and Birgitte felt strong enough to pursue her work as a painter despite outside pressure. She continued to paint while supporting herself with a flourishing career as a make-up artist.

 

My Daddy's Got Cancer For the next decade or so Birgitte would document on canvas the many highs and lows of her life living in New York City. Several experiences from this period profoundly affected her art. Foremost among these was losing her father to cancer in 2002. This experience is depicted in many heart-wrenching pieces like "Her Daddy's Got Cancer," "Her Daddy's Dead," and "She Misses Her Daddy."



She's HealedIn 2003, about seven months after her father passed, Birgitte met a man who profoundly changed her life. The relationship, simultaneously tumultuous and healing, was documented in a series of works on paper in nail-polish. These works originally began as simple prototypes for upcoming paintings but soon took on a life of their own and became complete pieces in themselves. Some of the titles from her nail polish series include "He Set Her Free," "She's Very Angry At Him," "He Fucked Her Brains Out," and "She's Healed."

Riding on the prodigious output that this relationship inspired, Birgitte has continued exploring themes of love, sex, celebrity, body image and relationship through her work, finding inspiration in her everyday life experiences living in the West Village, her friends, her new husband, John and the well-known people in the media that she frequently encounters. 

She has recently explored a new dimension to her body of work which are landscapes. Her two latest series of pieces are in watercolor. The first is called "Skylines" and the second is called, "Aegina."

 

 

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