Saturday, September 22, 2007

Neil Hollingsworth: Pool Balls no. 3


I lost the last game of pool I played -- it must have been all that beer. You could say, I am not such a good player, but why would you want to say that?! This piece manages to squeeze the most out of a fairly mono-typical theme: a pool ball. Variety is achieved through colors, complimenting, such as the yellow and the black, and neighboring (regarding the color wheel), such as the green and the blue. The multitude of white dots, sprinkled throughout the canvas, reminds of a starry night (not the van Gogh), the black ball aptly contributing color. Despite the simplicity, this piece harbors some sort of magic. Indeed, crystal balls and fortune telling come to mind when looking at it.

The viewing angle is somewhat disorienting: it is difficult to determine the optimal position for the observer, no beer this time. I think that this peculiarity has a purpose. When playing pool, one can become so absorbed in the game, as to become totally unaware of the surroundings and of time. This irregular composition achieves just that; it sucks the viewers in, by painterly means -- by prompting them to find a stable axis. This, in turn, appears impossible to accomplish, as the painting can be turned by ninety degrees and remain similarly viewable. Thus, one becomes lost in a seemingly futile exercise; only seemingly, as looking at a painting is never futile, though often addictive. Additionally, this turning effect reflects the physical reality of the game, as the pool table consists of a rectangular frame, and every wall can be used as the springing point for the next shot.

It is the spherical form of the balls that makes this multilateralism possible. I think it is quite difficult to find new ways of examining such a basic geometrical form, but the artist achieves it, in what I see as a true original method. He uses the power of artistic manipulation to an actual, physical effect, forcing the viewers to tilt their heads, or rotate the painting itself. And then, there are the six and the nine balls, with those markers that never made sense to me... No matter how you turn the ball, it remains incomprehensible which number it is supposed to be. But then, I was never good with numbers too. Damn, what am I good at?.. Enough about me though. Eventually, a pool table can be a gold vein for a painter: all the colors, the shapes, the tension. In a way, it is the perfect still-life scenery, and Neil proves this hypothesis without reservations.

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