Philip the Transplant Mixed Media Painting "Charles," 2022
Philip “Philip the Transplant” Rostek (Pennsylvania, 20th/21st century)
Oil painting with tar on canvas
Signed and dated to the verso
Artist name, date, and title inscribed to the verso
Philip Rostek, also known as “Philip the Transplant,” received his BFA at The Pennsylvania State University in 1971 and his MFA at Carnegie Mellon University in 1973. In addition to Philip the Transplant, he has assumed several alter egos throughout his studies and art career, including “Phriar Phil” after developing a spiritual connection to St. Francis of Assisi in the 1980s. He conceived his pseudonym “Philip the Transplant” after undergoing a successful heart transplant in 2008. His adoption of pseudonyms stems from his ongoing interest in assuming multiple identities, performance art, and distributed authorship in the postmodern art world.
Based in Pittsburgh, Philip particularly enjoys working with tar in his mixed-media compositions. His interest in tar began in the 1980s while creating multiple documentaries on the Lower East Side of New York City. At this time, he took photographs of his television screen, which he printed and adhered to Masonite with tar, then often applied a swirled vortex of tar around the television image, which Philip interpreted as a farewell to the mechanical age. After his video equipment was unfortunately stolen, Philip substituted the television imagery with images he painted, resulting in expressionistic compositions, often featuring abstract faces, figures, and gestural shapes. He explains that he continues to apply tar because the medium allows him to easily adhere and incorporate other mixed media and up-cycled materials. As an artist, Philip relies on a spontaneous creative process as he appreciates open-ended, even accidental, results.
After his heart transplant, Philip was invited to create art on stage for the ballet HEART (Functions vs. Emotion) performed by the Bodiography Contemporary Ballet Company at Pittsburgh’s Byam Theater. Along with other heart transplant patients and surgeons, Philip interacted and performed on stage with the dancers, which inspired a recurring dance theme in many of his more recent compositions. In 2019, his book A Foreigner in Hades was published, and speaks about his experience of what he describes as the 1980s volatile art in New York City. Throughout his career, he has posted over 1000 music-related videos on YouTube, and has exhibited his work regionally, nationally, and internationally. Galleries and venues that have featured his work include the Westmoreland Museum of American Art (Greensburg, PA), the American Jewish Museum (Pittsburgh, PA), the FusionsArts Museum (NYC), the Harlan Gallery at Seton Hall University (Greensburg, PA), and the Irma Freeman Center for the Imagination (Pittsburgh, PA), among many others.
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