Byzantine Altar

© the artist's estate. Image credit: Heriot-Watt University

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Initially much influenced by the example of the Expressionist painter Oscar Kokoschka, Philipson’s work remained in touch with continental and American models. While never completely abstract, the motifs he uses, especially nudes, animals and birds, all take their part in a drama that is taking place autonomously within the picture and without any direct reference to any real or imagined events in the world outside. In 'Byzantine Altar' the real drama is in the contrasting colour and in the rich texture of paint laid on with a palette knife. The scarlet and gold and the loaded paint are used, not so much to represent an altar with an icon of the Madonna on it, all framed by the arched interior of a church, though these things are recognisable in the painting, but to create a pictorial equivalent to it.

Heriot-Watt University



Byzantine Altar




oil on canvas


H 54.4 x W 39.2 cm

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Heriot-Watt University

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