Deborah Phillips (Pigs) 2005

Deborah Phillips, a longtime editor and reviewer of the visual arts, is currently based in San Francisco. 

Three little pink  pigs huddled in their sty are readied for market in Community. Poloto’s market metaphor illustrates the dichotomy between social interaction and rebellion. The clique of three in the pen may have banished their erstwhile brethren, leaving him to an enforced independence outside the box. Meanwhile, his compatriots find safety in numbers. The defiant loner must now face risks alone, while the complacent pen pals enjoy club privileges. Either way, it will end in a doomed trip to the abattoir.

Shifting planes of color characterize thematic ideas in the painting, Commitment. The figure of a solitary pig corralled into a pen of baling wire stays put as compositional elements float and change around his sturdy presence. A talisman of certainty in a world of ambiguity, the figure of this hefty pig lends a calm center to the painting.

It is a shy pig that hides his head in Isolation. His pink vulnerability stands out against tougher tones of red, gray and ochre in the painting’s interior. In his self-imposed quarantine he finds solace in the Internet phone clip and gray wire that holds him in the thrall of miracles on the Web. Gorging on digital information, this little piggy needs to unplug and get a life.

Hanging from a triad of butcher hooks, three pigs come to the end of their short predestined journey on earth in Reverence. Grateful for the bounty of their flesh, meat-eaters celebrate the pigs’ demise. Poloto’s vegetarian outlook, however, finds her personal expression in the painting’s foreshadowing tones of blackest caverns and gray, mournful mists.