Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Neil Hollingsworth

I know that it may sound controversial, but I have always felt that photography is yet to prove itself as a real art form. Yes, there are some components, most of which were borrowed from painting -- but can the craft of a photographer, whose most basic skill boils down to pressing the button of his apparatus at the right place at the right time, both of which they often achieve accidentally, be compared to that of an artist holding a brush, with which they try to create new life on another surface? There is no doubt that photographs can induce aesthetic pleasure, but so can nature, or almost anything, after being processed, with a specific intent, in our minds. The effect by itself does not transcend the cause into what we call "art." But, there are artists -- and I mean painters -- who have found a way to reconcile photography and painting*. Thus, "photo-realism" was born. Neil Hollingsworth is a photo-realist painter, and he makes the best of two worlds.

Neil fully exploits photographic effects: many of his still lives include metallic objects that mirror the minutest details and reflect light with unprecedented precision. Lines and palette enjoy refinement rarely seen in painting; the photographic origins rule out painterly excesses. Despite the overwhelming possibilities, Neil gravitates towards minimalistic, classical compositions, which nevertheless project a piquant off-beat quality. An object will appear far enough from the center to make the displacement notable, but not too far, as to not to encumber the viewing process. Backgrounds, though traditionally secondary, illuminate canvases with subtle but permeating light. These are elusive qualities, and figuring them out may significantly enrich the viewing experience; when combined, along with the more prominent elements, they make up the artist's style. I don't think there is a concession in acknowledging that it is more difficult to define the individual style of a photo-realist artist. But when still trying to do so, and doing so, it may prove to be a more rewarding process than usual, in direct proportion to the invested effort.

When working within such an idiosyncratic art movement, the choice of a subject matter can also become a challenge. Here restraint and caution serve the artist similarly well. Neil focuses on a few themes and explores them almost religiously. Spheres, one of his favorite subjects, are depicted in numerous variations: transparent, translucent or opaque, in different sizes and settings, they corroborate his dedication on the one hand, presenting a true visual insight on this geometrical object on the other. Other themes include filled or empty glass containers, vintage cars and sliced bread. Regardless of the subject, Neil displays admirable consistency in accuracy of delivery. Eventually, when each painting can posit a visual surprise for the viewer, it is particularly pleasing to recognize that, while studying Neil's artwork, the feeling of surprise can become the less surprising of all.

Neil Hollingworth lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He has displayed his artwork in various galleries across the nation. He is a member of the Daily Painters Guild, and keeps a website and a blog.

*No photographers were harmed during the writing of this review.


Alvin Richard said...

Thank you for posting Neil Hollingsworth's artwork. I've just discovered his art this spring, and he has already become one of my favorite artist.

I enjoy you blog very much, great job!

g summers said...

Hollingsworth work is wonderful . I think photography has been accepted as artwork - but then, what is art anyway. The tools are different but the knowl;edge to shoot well and the eye to express is different than mere recroding.

Billions of people move around with cameras of any size and shape but there are very few who can create an image that sticks in the mind.

Much of any art is persistent and it takes a lot of it to become a great photographer and I don't mean learning how to use a camera, learning light, learning compostion. Those things become transparent to the photographer just as the brush and paint become transparent to the painter. They both choose by intinct, by being able to see through the reality in front of them to the hear to what they want to express.

For me, it is getting up before light and standing or walkjing alone through familiar places until what i came for was there. I may not have know what i came for - but when I see it, I know.

It could be spending 12 hours with a bunch of flowers and reflectors and water until my arm and head ache and then, something happens - and at that moment, I see something I may never see again. It's a moment or a a look or a light or a color or a flow or a surprise that i won't be able to define for days or even months and may be years.

Art isn't about anyone else except the artist. If we are lucky enough to have others enjoy and be taken away by it, that's great and if we are fortunate to sell something, even nicer. Bust art is the experience of the artist and I happen to be a photographer and can't trace my hands with a pencil and draw wierd looking stick horses and people. I've see sunrises and sunsets that made me cry and those are moments that touched me and have touched others - at least they said so.

Elijah said...

@Alvin Richard: Thank you! I appreciate your kind words, and your interest for Neil's work as well.

@G Summers: Interesting perspective. I actually haven't considered that it's what inside the artist's mind and soul that defines what he does (if done properly) as art. It's a broad-minded viewpoint, and I agree with you.

Ming said...

Your writing is improving in leaps and bounds:) I like this post, It's the first I've seen whre you feature an artist and not just an artwork.

Tree said...

I tend to be blunt so take this in the spirit it is given as it's not meant to be mean but, your comments about photography and photographers are very insulting and show a lack of knowledge about both. I really hope you learn more about the subject as you may gain a greater understanding and appreciation of it.

Elijah said...

Hello Tree,

I certainly didn't mean to insult anybody. As I said, I realize that what I'm saying is controversial. Perhaps you are correct about gaining knowledge... but until than, the argument stands still, and I challenge you to prove it wrong. There's nothing like gaining knowledge during a discussion.
Thank you for your response.