Philip Nicol is a painter of the frozen moment, of silence and of absence. The eeriness of Delvaux and Magritte, in which light, almost stage-light as in a proscenium-bound mise-en-scéne, is of the essence. Some of his works recall the ensembles of Edward Hopper for similar reasons, but Nicol’s painting has until recently been even more unpopulated. This has had the effect of forcing the viewer’s attention on the invisible figure which is present: the artist, and of course on the realisation of the tacit conspiracy constructed between artist and viewer. All this might suggest alienation and a degree of gloom but to me is suggested a suspension of normal time, as in a street’s velvet lamp-lit quietness, after snow has fallen. There is a considerable element of dream in these works and simple objects are given added value by it: the prosaic roadworks, the solitary tree, even the unpropitious unpoetic pedestrianism of a parked car, assume the magic of A Shoreham Landscape and the nervy metaphysical qualities of ‘the Ancients’. These works force us to concentrate on the ordinary and to recognise how charged the ordinary can be, under certain circumstances, with the extraordinary. Size too plays a part: on the whole the paintings are small, densely concentrated and jewel-like.