Completely self-taught, Pharo pulls inspiration from his adolescent experiences, as, according to him, “they are what shapes us,” and creates the thoughts, routines, and perspectives that we carry through today. He also aims to challenge thinking, perspective, ethnicity-based thinking, stereotypes, and racism, to make viewers pause, to challenge how things are presented or how people perceive things should be presented. This can be seen across his works, where you may find the word “ear” written on the canvas where the actual ear should be, or instead of a neat brain and colored in backdrop behind it, he leaves it wide open and fills it in with pastels and oil sticks. You never know what challenges his works will present.
Pharo’s work will also be on display around the city through August 31, 2023.
About Tony Pharo
Tony Pharo is an American artist and painter. Originally from upstate New York, Pharo relocated to California where he now resides in Irvine. It was a life-changing transition to leave the home of his youth behind – as well as the habits he’d picked up along the way – but now, seven years sober, he can’t imagine leaving California.
Pharo finds inspiration in the everyday. He describes his work as Neo Expressionist Pop Art, not because it is easily categorized, but because he sees his work as part of a larger movement that has yet to be named. He notes how often a generational talent like Basquiat or George Condo didn’t quite fit in while they were working, only to be recontextualized later.
Like his heros, Pharo is inspired by the limitless possibility that comes with being free of contemporaneous movements with strict boundaries and defined ideals. This is evident in his expressive, dynamic paintings. On his canvas, the only boundaries are physical. Colors collide, lines run and return in chaotic patterns that suggest a beautiful nihilism. This is art that knows only its own truth, childlike and timeless.
Despite his high concept outlook on art, Pharo is philosophically an aesthetic populist. Art to Pharo is for everyone. It’s the temporality of life we all share that reveals the benefits of creativity. Because life is short, art benefits those who create and appreciate alike. For Pharo, the benefits are therapeutic, a way to cope with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD can be at times debilitating. But every time his brush meets the canvas, a flow state is achieved. Ultimately, Pharo’s art is about liberation from the things that hold us back – childhood traumas and conscripted beliefs – and the freedom inherent to moving forward in a creative life.
Only painting for a short time, Tony Pharo’s work has already been shown in multiple gallery exhibitions across two states. He’s currently working on numerous pieces, including his largest yet, a 5’x6’ painting exploring the process of inspiration itself.