(Credit: Richard Phillips for VMAN)
Pop painter Richard Phillips -- you've seen his work in... museums... or on Gossip Girl -- is known for his glossy pictorial-style paintings, mostly of women. But Richard Phillips was commissioned by VMAN to paint five of the most in-demand men on the planet: Robert Pattison, Justin Timberlake, Zac Efron, Chace Crawford, and Leonardo DiCaprio. In Phillips' "Most Wanted" series of paintings, he uses male idols not only of sexual lust but of commercial desire as well, placing them against step-and-repeat backdrops that question the relationship between celebrity and commerce, hence Robert Pattinson behind a Louis Vuitton background.
VMAN's Aimee Walleston writes, "Actors get press coverage by being photographed in front of walls plastered with sponsor logos. Sponsors get their brands blessed by the power of celebrity. By reinterpreting these photographs (which Phillips describes as “utterly worthless, and completely harnessed to commerce”) in pastel, Phillips has effectively brought each of these famous men into the realm of sorcery. The gestural quality makes these boys more touchable than the camera ever could, and more real, yet their poses and the Easter egg colored backdrops retain an implacable otherness... We make our beautiful actors into gods only to shove them in front of step-and-repeats so that they become indistinguishable from the advertised product scrawled behind them. And then a question gets raised: to what end does it behoove a young man to have that particular label behind him? “Pick me, LV, for your next campaign—don’t we look gorgeous together?” And what happens to these pictures of icons leaning against icons? They disappear into pixel dust—forgotten upon sight and remaining as a ghostly archive on Perez or Dlisted (the fame bashing/worshipping blog whose editor lovingly captioned each portrait)."