Through light and shadow Driver punctuates his paintings with a mood of stillness and calm that gives his works a timeless quality. His paintings cannot be categorised as realism – there is more of an implied presence of something you never see. Whether it is a window frame in the foreground with a surreal background or looking through veranda doors, the lean towards surrealism is evident. He focuses on painting landscapes and interiors where humans are absent, but their presence is intensely felt through open doors and empty chairs. The settings for his seascapes and landscapes are based on a feeling for a place rather than an actual location. Driver builds up his paintings with layers of transparent acrylic paint, slowly building up tone and colour that give each painting an individual dreamlike and surreal quality.
Driver has been exhibiting in New Zealand since 1975 and his works are in private collections worldwide and in public collections at the Hocken Library, Department of Foreign Affairs, Bank of New Zealand and State Services Commission.
“The paintings belong to the school of New Zealand artists whose realist subjects are heightened in effect by an intense clear light that gives the objects and the landscape a metaphysical significance and tries to load even a chair with meaning.
His skills are used to make images of the New Zealand dream, particularly the dream of a lovely colonial house with wooden floors, isolated near the sea or looking over a wide landscape of lonely hills. His paintings have no people in them but their presence is hinted at obliquely. This absence gives his world of sunlight outside and shadows indoors an individual, dream like, surreal quality.”
– T.J McNamara, Auckland Herald
“Built up with layers of transparent acrylic paint they contain all the realism and stark reality that this mode of painting requires. And each painting breathes the air and stillness. The New Zealand Romantic Movement will not lie down and die while we have Neil Driver in our midst.”
– Alva Bett, The Dominion