Philip Wittmann’s work is based on signs. Signs for him are 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.
It was 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. He realized when looking at the origin
of alphabets, all alphabets actually, that graphical representation is more present as there is of-
ten 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”, one will make for themself a mental representation of a blue sky, even if each one 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.