His pictures may be of everyday scenes and objects, but there is nothing humdrum about the work of Jeff Clarke.

Clarke is a master of light and shade and the relationship between the two.

A new exhibition which opens at Art Jericho, in Oxford, this week shows the 81 year-old artist's mastery of light in a bold collection of prints and oils.

The Oxford artist, who honed his skills in the vibrant sunlight of the Mediterranean, explains his fascination with the nuances of illumination.

"The composer Herbert Howells said 'the themes which work best, are those that choose you'," he says.

"Light and shade have certainly laid a long, exciting and often heavy hand over 67 out of my 81 years. It's a very old theme in art history – chiaroscuro [the the treatment of light and shade], surface vibration, time passing, metaphor, good and evil, you name it...

"Not exclusive by any means, given the independence of line and colour if required, but egged on by early years in sunny Italy and Crete, I've been involved in recurrent bouts with light's perpetual motions, life giving angles and continually shifting shapes which develop into a chess game, a dialectic of illumination and camouflage full of apparent surprise.

"Working in places of classical and romantic history is a powerful stimulant, but my real job for a long time has been to try and capture some sense of the precious irradiation of the everyday, just south of Folly Bridge."

Gallery curator Jenny Blyth is an admirer of his work.

"Jeff Clarke's collages, prints and oil paintings, explore recurrent themes," she says. "He is drawn to his subjects as planets to the sun. Brushes in a jug with fruit and flower pot, washing on a line behind his studio, perhaps a particular scene glimpsed through the garden door...

"Although Clarke has spent many years painting in the Mediterranean, the location and his chosen subject is secondary. His preoccupation is light and shade and how to articulate the impact of light, in that moment, on form. He describes the dialogue between light and dark as inescapable in every sense.

"Approaching his game through different media, Clarke creates collages in clean-cut colour, the light cutting diagonals across shadowed corners multiplying at once the possibilities of movement of shape, dimension and time.

"Flat planes of colour construct corrugated panels of barns and tin roofs, playful in their juxtaposed geometry and precision. By contrast, his prints celebrate the syncopated patterning created by light and shade, a distinctly cooler and tonally based approach.

"Informed by the exuberant colours of his collages and the linear expression of printmaking, his oils are vibrant, infused with light and rigorous form.

"Although the conversation between light and shade may be the essence of painting for Jeff Clarke, the overriding impression that the viewer enjoys is the physicality and dynamic of vital colour extruded by the light. This exhibition is the culmination of a lifetime's journey toward that prize.

Jeff Clarke, Collages, Paintings and Prints is at ARt Jericho, King Street, Oxford, from today until August 26.

Go to artjericho.com