V. Philippides was born on January 8, 1968 in Westchester County,
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, 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
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
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.
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.
In May of 1998, Birgitte met a fellow artist while on a trip to
California. 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.
the next seven years 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."
seven months after her father passed, Birgitte fell in love with 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
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.
Pablo van Dijk
Kunst Editions, New York