John Hoyland Exhibition at the Newport Street Gallery – 8 October 2015 – 3 April 2016



John Hoyland

English Painter and printmaker.  Trained at Sheffield College of Art (1951-6) and the Royal Academy Schools (1956-60)

‘John Hoyland (1934-2011) was one of the leading British painters of his generation.

As the critic William Feaver once wrote, ‘A pukka Hoyland is a work not of hand and eye, but of total Self.’ And it was this whole-hearted commitment to painting that characterised his six decades of work. His career was decisively influenced in the late 1950s and 1960s by his experience of American Abstract Expressionism. But as an artist and a man he was enough of an individual to be able to knowingly absorb and deflect those influences, and set himself on his own path.

Hoyland preferred not to be known as an abstract painter. He felt it too calculating a term or that it implied some kind of premeditation in his process. After an initial dalliance with figurative painting in the 1950s he became a life-long proponent of the possibilities of non-figurative imagery, which possessed for him, he once wrote, ‘the potential for the most advanced depth of feeling and meaning’. As Andrew Lambirth writes: ‘His paintings are abstracts but they are not about absolutes. They are about contingencies and specifics: very particular emotions, thoughts and feelings dependent upon the act of looking.’


The John Hoyland Exhibition seems to have mixed reviews by Ab Crit and The Guardian amongst others:




As I walked around the exhibition the paintings improved – by the time I had reached the last room on the ground floor I found the first painting I really liked (see below).  So simple and balanced with colours singing together.


JohnHoyland_ exhib


The paintings continued to become stronger as I moved upstairs.  The middle room held some unusual pastel coloured paintings (two above) where the paint was a mixture of thrown and painted.  The last room the work was freer and more expressionistic with colours merging, coming through different layers and vibrating together.  They seemed much more at ease with themeselves and trying less hard to please.




The gallery space was beautiful, very big and very white.  The space needed big pictures  and Hoyland’s large works only just managed to hold their own… particularly in the down stairs space,

The architect of the building had clearly enjoyed himself with the staircases:


NewportSt Gallery - staircase

Looking down


Looking up.




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