Born to diplomat parents, Philip Buller spent his formative years in vastly different cultures in India, Africa, Washington DC and New England. The young artist was encouraged by his family to explore his creativity in a variety of areas, and Philip developed an avid interest in music and visual arts. He studied graphic design, toured as a musician, and worked as a builder before formally studying painting and drawing at the California College of Arts and Crafts, where he received his MFA in 1994.
Buller’s representational paintings are devoid of historical references, transcending literal narratives and signifying universal themes. Compositionally intriguing, his paintings at first glance present a visual chaos of patterns and figurative elements. Upon closer inspection, however, they resolve into a sometimes dense layering of forms and figures, some distinct and detailed and others merely hinted at with lush, summary brushstrokes. His compositions cohere as a result of the dynamic relationships between forms and color, and by a rhythmic quality that pulses across the canvas. Buller’s paintings are executed in part by utilizing a technique that involves painting directly onto metal screen mesh, which is then applied directly onto the canvas, transferring the imprint of the mesh along with the image itself. The process, which has its roots in printmaking and reflects the artist’s background in graphic design, allows Buller to marry traditional subject matter with a more modern technical approach.
Buller explains, “I apply paint, remove paint - creating and obscuring forms. A form must be fully realized before it can be obscured. The ambiguity of a blurred image often encourages me to reach below a literal interpretation of form.”