One of the wonderful things about light, for those of us who are constantly fascinated by it, is the way it bounces around, changing and being changed by the objects it encounters.
I have to admit to a particular fascination with curved reflective surfaces and transparent objects, so Neil Hollingsworth, who paints both of these subjects with considerable finesse, had my attention as soon as I saw his work.
If you follow his eye, you can immerse yourself in a world of subtle patterns of light, shadow and contrast as sunlight, usually an angular streak slanting in through a window, cascades across, around and through the everyday objects that Hollingsworth has set up to paint. Wrapped in these soft beams, the tea kettles, coffee urns, milk bottles, glasses and cups become worlds in themselves with rooms reflected in objects and shadows revealing form as much as the light.
Hollingsworth has a quiet but intense eye for contrast and tone, and a remarkably fresh sense of composition that make his paintings more inviting and fascinating than the subjects themselves might suggest.
His still life paintings of fruit are handled with the same sensitivity for the description of form with light and shadow, usually composed with strong backlighting so that the shadows are central and the light wrapping around both edges, lending them a visual drama seldom encountered in still life.
Hollingsworth tackles other subjects, exterior scenes, architectural elements, figurative work and animals, but it is the intimate paintings of simple objects, and the not-so-simple ways that light interacts with them, that really shine.
Neil Hollingsworth is married to painter Karen Hollingsworth, who I profiled back in April. Though you can certainly see shared influences and common subjects like sunlight on draped sheets, they are both strong painters with their own sensibilities. (Their house must have great windows, though. It seems like they have “sunlight on tap”.) Both painters have a talent for transforming the mundane into the wonderful with their mastery of light and shade.