It’s the mixture of calm beauty and ambiguity throughout all of Jo Holdsworth’s paintings that mesmerises the viewer. In one, a pair of individuals stand on a bridge overlooking London, are they a couple, friends or random strangers brought together by the view? They could be anyone, they could be us.
In an adjacent work a smattering of people move forwards towards the light and hazy structures in the distance. Could it be the march of commuters heading towards the station or people stepping into a heavenly light before they ascend to another realm? Every viewer will form their own narrative from the works and it’s this ability to get pulled in and lost within these large scale works that really grabs you and holds your attention.
The modern London skyline features prominently in a few works, reflecting the artist’s own background of working in the City and the fact these paintings are being shown in the heart of the financial district too. It’s as if these works are a contemporary take on L.S. Lowry and his paintings of workers heading towards the factory – here it’s those working in finance heading towards the Royal Exchange building – the shadows of the figures are elongated in the light, reminiscent of the spindly figures we see in Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures.
All of the artist’s works are in her trademark shades of blue and while it’s a colour often associated with melancholy, here it feels more calming and uplifting – whether it’s looking at a few individuals or a crowd. These aren’t works that jar with their bright colours and freneticism, but draw you in emotionally to ask you to consider the scene. As people peel off the busy streets of London to see these works, they can discover a calming oasis that’s both relatable and has an air of mystery.