Philip Colbert. House of the Lobster – from Pompeii to Venice

Philip Colbert, Lobster Octopus II (Pompeii Scene), 2023


From 20 Maggio 2023 to 26 Agosto 2023


Place: Patricia Low Venezia - Palazzo Contarini Michiel

Address: Dorsoduro 2793

Times: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 1pm / 2pm – 6pm

Official site:

Patricia Low Venezia is delighted to announce a solo show by British artist Philip Colbert as second exhibition at the brand new gallery on the Grand Canal in Venice, from May 20 to August 26, 2023 alongside the 18th Architecture Biennale.
After the success of Colbert’s 12-meter inflatable – a surprise installation for the opening of the 2022 Venice Biennale – Patricia Low Venezia is excited to announce his return to the city.
Inspired by Canaletto’s renowned paintings, synonymous with Venice, Colbert uses the city itself as a context to present the work. In the exhibition titled, “House of the Lobster”, Colbert presents a new Pompeii series that celebrates the origins of lobster mythology reviving the lobster of Herculaneum and Pompeian mosaics and frescos. Central to the exhibition is the eternal conflict between the lobster, as a symbol of mortality, and octopus, a sacred symbol. In these underwater battle scenes, they are caught in the midst of a struggle, initially inspired by a mosaic From the House of the Geometric Mosaics in Pompeii (eruption in 79 AD), where a moray eel has joined in the aquatic fight.
Drawing on the rich mythology of ancient Greece and Rome, this new body of paintings also references many sea- gods such as Pontus, often depicted with crab-claw horns growing out of his head or Proteus, a shapeshifter commonly portrayed with tentacles. These mythic figures inform each epic battle, where the yin and yang of the lobster-octopus-duo dramatically plays out throughout the exhibition.
The Venice series taps into the artistic rite of passage the city has become for contemporary artists while simultaneously speaking to the major force Venetian painting was in Italian Renaissance painting and beyond. Along with the symbol of the lobster in Dutch still-life painting, the artist draws on its rich legacy in art history to create these battle scenes, where pop surrealism and classical antiquity collide.
Colbert also retraces the symbolic power of the lobster to ancient amphorae, most notably, The Class of the Seven Lobster-Claws. On display is a classical lobster amphora in a neo-pop aesthetic. With reference to the ancient vase makers, it suggests lobster-worship and its potential connection to a higher power, merging this art historical context with the surreal apocalyptic vision of his retro-future lobster world.
Born in Scotland and living and working in London, Colbert is a contemporary artist working across painting, sculpture, clothing, furniture, and within digital spheres. Often referred to as the “godson of Andy Warhol,” he has created a global following for his cartoon lobster persona and his masterful hyper pop history paintings and sculptures. Graduating with an MA in Philosophy from University of St. Andrews, his work powerfully explores the patterns of contemporary digital culture and its relationship to art history, merging high art themes from old master paintings and art theory with everyday symbols of mass contemporary culture, all narrated through the eyes of his cartoon Lobster alter ego.
Colbert has exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including Karuizawa New Art Museum (Karuizawa, 2023), Museo di San Salvatore in Lauro (Rome, 2023), The Page Gallery (Seoul, 2022), Pearl Lam Galleries (Shanghai, 2022), Whitestone Gallery (Taipei, 2021), Times Art Museum (Chongqing, 2021), Sejong Museum of Art (Seoul, 2021), Modern Art Museum (Shanghai, 2020), Saatchi Gallery (London,2020), and Multimedia Art Museum (Moscow, 2020). Colbert has also collaborated with luxury brands such as ADV Label, Bentley Motors, Rolex, Montblanc, Christian Louboutin, COMME des GARÇONS, Chupa Chups, and Adidas.
“I became an artist when I became a Lobster” Philip Colbert