In 1943 he began to write about this sacred art in an extensive and authoritative way, wishing to explain its features and to show its enormous value. In 1960 he wrote Ekphrasis – the explanation of Orthodox Iconography. This book is a valuable guide for the iconographer to learn the technique of painting the icon according to byzantine tradition. Also, for the general reader “to penetrate to the deeper, spiritual essence of the icons done according to this great tradition” (C. Cavarnos).
“Byzantine art,” Kontoglou says, “is for me the art of arts. I belive in it as I believe in (Orthodox) religion. Only this art nourishes my soul, through its deep and mysterious powers; it alone quenches the thirst that I feel in the midst of the arid desert that surrounds us. In comparison with Byzantine art, all the others appear to me trivial, ‘troubling themselves about many things, when but one thing is needed’.”
Byzantine iconographers bring the spiritual world into time and space for which reasons the icon is not “naturalistic” and “realistic”. It’s purpose has a religious function. It wants to express sanctified things to help man see with spiritual eyes the Holy Mysteries of the Christian revelation.
Iconography offers a vision of time and eternity. Using sacred and symbolic forms and colors, Kontoglou represents that vision in a dramatic fashion. To demonstrate his purpose he employed sober colors, simple shapes and bold lines.
Photios Kontoglou never held the elitist position that painting icons was restricted to intellectuals, or professional artists. Even the illiterate have painted them. Like the Holy Scriptures, the icon is the work of the Holy Spirit.
His relics are incorrupt, a validation of his works.