Ian Whittlesea (b. 1967, UK) lives in London. His work is concerned with words, and with the ability of text to transform the physical and psychic state of the viewer. It assumes many forms, from painstaking paintings to printed books, ephemeral posters and transient projections, and explores the relationships between language, light, image and diagram both on the page and in the world.

Over the last 25 years his publications and exhibitions have drawn on the parallels between what one experiences when making or perceiving art and first-hand reports of transcendental experiences. Working with the texts of esoteric groups that claim self-realisation comes through control of breath and body, he has attempted to elucidate Sol LeWitt's statement: Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.

Whittlesea first became known for his series of Studio Paintings that, using white paint on a dark ground, simply name the place that another artist or writer has worked. In 2004 he retreated from the art world and began practicing judo. Five years later, after gaining his black belt, he published a translated facsimile of Yves Klein's book Les Fondements du Judo. The making of the book allowed the production of a group of related works including a film of identical twins performing a judo kata and reenactments of Klein's Judo Académie de Paris.

In 2012 he collaborated with Foundation students at Kingston University to revive the breathing and stretching exercises that Johannes Itten taught at the Bauhaus. The process was documented in a newly illustrated and appended edition of Mazdaznan Health & Breath Culture.

In 2014 he published Becoming Invisible, a guide and visual primer that draws on the literature of Theosophy and Rosicrucianism. It describes how, through visualisation and breath control, the reader will be able to split light into its constituent parts and then recombine the spectrum to form a glowing white cloud that envelops its creator. For Art Night London 2017 he staged an associated project in the Bascule Chamber of Tower Bridge – a dramatic son et lumière, narrated by a hypnotherapist and culminating in an explosion of white light.

In 2017 The Egyptian Postures was published. It investigates the connections between esoteric groups and early Modernism, paying particular attention to their theories of light and eugenics. It generated a related group of drawings and photographs that have been exhibited alongside the archive of printed matter that informed the book's production.

In 2019 he published On Colour... and in 2020 Trataka, both with The Everyday Press, London.

Recent solo exhibitions include Some books and light to read them by, PrintRoom, Rotterdam NL (2018), In the beginning… 1961 Projects, Singapore (2017), Breath is Life, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool (2015), Attaining Cosmic Consciousness, Tenderbooks, London (2014) and A Breathing Bulb, Marlborough Contemporary, London (2014).

Group exhibitions include Bauhaus: Utopia in Crisis, Camberwell Space, London (2019), One Thing Plus Another Thing…, Tlön Projects, The Hague (2018), Performances Yves Klein, BOZAR, Brussels (2017), Now is forever lasting constant in the mind, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2016), Exercises in Empathy, Site, Sheffield (2015), Resource, Bluecoat, Liverpool (2015) and Everything is About to Happen, Artists Space, NY (2014).