Philip Flanagan is a born artist, who is also a contemplative. He has a calm and peace which allows him to observe precisely and to note detail accurately, but he has the balance not to be overcome by it, to be able to recognise the significant factor which animates the experience. He meditates on what he contemplates. It is that combination of contemplation and meditation which makes his work so very special.
"My painting is almost always landscape based. I want to convey the landscape but I want to convey it in an abstract sense. I don't want to paint and draw the topography. I want to see how far you can push the thing - abstract - and still maintain its character."
The landscape actualises an inscape, a deeper awareness of the uniqueness of those forms by which we see and enjoy "the deepest freshness deep down things" as Gerard Manley Hopkins put it. This is the wonder of these paintings; they prompt us to see into the life of things, to glory in a sense of being - not just of being alive, but of being.
It has been a privilege to live with one of Philip's paintings in my study. As I glance up from my desk the solid block of concrete motif transmogrifies in its many layers of acrylic into the spatial depths of a classical temple and the surrounding rectangular forms into its architectural elements. It is amazing that a canvas of limited size can hold such depth and extent and wonder. But that is the mastery of technique and the vision of the artist can achieve.
The juxtaposition of colours and tones, warm and cold, give a shimmering effect, so that we become one with and aware of the energy which permeates all being. Teilhard de Chardin awakened us to the truth that in a sense all is animate, all is vital, all is dynamic - as Planck, Bhor and Einstein showed us, all is energy.
The intensity of Philip's use of colour is starting. The brilliant vivid, wet greens and blues and yellows of the grass; the infinite range of blues and the magenta and red of the sky, the green and yellows and browns and reds of leaf, fern and wild dogwood - at times great expanses of colour, at times just flashes but of such vitality and intensity that they enthral and enguld. Philip's canvases depict and evoke that inscape, the emotional content and power of the landscape.