Auction Highlight Spring 2013 Ernest Sidney Philpot

Lot 70 Ernest Sidney Philpot – The Crucifixion

Even though he was the president of the Perth Society of Artists from 1951 to 1954 and associated with many local artists, Ernest Philpot considered himself to be a loner.

Loner or otherwise, he is an important figure in Western Australian art history and one of this state’s first exponents of pure abstraction. Crucifixion was painted in the mid 1950’s at the time when he was evolving from traditional landscape to pure abstraction. After becoming interested in the abstract image he found he was unable to make the complete leap to the non representational and dwelt for a while in a surreal/cubist phase. The works he produced during this brief period form and important part of his oeuvre.

In his book Ernest Philpot I am the artist he said on his transition from traditional to abstract, “Before plunging into the tide, I stuck in a tentative tow … I floated and swam until I reached the further solid shore of pure abstract imagery, and cannot leave it without scarring my artistic conscience.”

Crucifixion may have been painted for inclusion in the Blake Prize though there is no record of him sending it. Another of his works titled Crucifixion was a finalist in the 1956 Blake Prize.