The Saatchi Galley in October.
In 2016, while painting on the side as an artist under a pseudonym, he was outed by the Wall Street Journal, on the front page, no less. He decided to start painting and decided that the 12th century Faust would be perfect narrative device to express what he’d learned of the darker side of the successful male in the boardroom. He’s not the first to use Faust to power societal and human insights and follows Christopher Marlowe, Goethe, The Rolling Stones, Queen down this path. As a chronicler of contemporary life, all insights into the workings of corporations, big business, finance and tech have all been woven into the work.
As a former CEO in ‘high-tech’, at Vodafone and T-Mobile and as a vice president at Amazon, Humm’s insight into the make-up and moral dysfunction of some of the world’s powerful elite informed his artistic expression of a modern Faust. If anyone is equipped to make that call, it’s him.
For Humm, every historical era and culture has its own Faust figure and he has woven in several versions into his tapestry on modern life. Humm’s primary Faust is a tech giant modelled on Steve Jobs, dressed in Jobs’ “work uniform” of New Balance sneakers, jeans and black turtleneck sweater. Like Faust, Jobs reached the pinnacle of the industry and technology – but the words on his deathbed were filled with regret. No detail is accidental in Humm’s visual narrative and language. Mephisto is dressed in blue suited attire of a hedge fund manager, Napoleon on horseback while the symbolic bull of Wall Street bucks with a warning on monetary policy.
“In transposing the story to the 21st
Century, in the context of modern
technology, Humm has created a cautionary
tale. “We have not changed in 500 years”,
he acknowledges. “Except that science and
technology is far more advanced and
dangerous. If you create a self-learning
computer system more intelligent than
yourself, it might attempt to save the planet
by eliminating humans altogether.” Philip Humm
The Hollywood London Magazine