Philip Wittmann work is based on signs. Signs are for him an intermediary between abstraction and writing. He started painting 32 years ago, at the age of 26, as an amateur painter with ‘pure’ abstraction. However he felt he did not have strong basis on which his work could evolve.
Then in 2008, when taking a calligraphy class, he found a book about the origins of the Chinese alphabet which origins are basically signs. The Chinese characters as we know them today are more graphical than the 26 letters of our Latin alphabet. However when looking at the origin of alphabets, all alphabets actually, he realized that the graphical representation is more present as there is often a resemblance between the sign - its actual meaning- and what it is supposed to represent. For instance in the origin of Chinese alphabet the sign representing a Turtle looks like a turtle.
Wittmann loves signs as they leave room for interpretation. For instance, If one writes “the sky is blue”, every person will make for her/himself a mental representation of a blue sky, even if everyone of us, will probably have some nuance in our own mental representation of that blue sky. On the other hand, a sign can be interpreted by the viewer in anyway you want. There is no clear meaning attached to it. These signs might appeal to your conscious and/or unconscious thoughts. This is what he finds attractive. As we listen to people talking about what they ‘see’ in his work we are always surprised by the ‘stories’ that people build with themselves in their own minds.
The combination of signs and calligraph forms the basis of his style. Phillip then built his own dictionary of signs which he carefully uses and organizes on the paper using Inks and oils.