Press |  1960s | 

‘John Hoyland’ by Guy Brett

Like Frankenthaler, John Hoyland is a painter concerned with the impact of simple masses of colour, but it is hard to imagine anything more different from Frankenthaler’s blotted, loose forms than the hard, heavy rectangles in Hoyland’s recent paintings at the Waddington Galleries, 2 Cork Street. These are painted in acrylic like Hoyland’s previous paintings, but some of the rectangles massively lodged towards the bottom of a canvas not much larger than they are have been painted thickly and smoothed down with a palette-knife. Their rude sheen is a kind of sacrilege in the soft-focus medium of acrylic (the belief, deriving in fact from Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings of the early Fifties, being that the paint should sink in and dye the canvas like a fabric). But in most cases this intrusion comes off with striking effect. […]

In one or two paintings this conflict seems overplayed, or at least a little trumped up. But at the same time a kind of artificiality is a necessary part of the effect of these paintings, which was not so true of Hoyland’s earlier work, where the shapes, however massive, took on, so to speak, the veil of the medium. The colours are red, orange, blue and an occasional bright green margin, but the dominating impression is of red, a massive redness, an effect of colour which contrasts sharply with the very rarefied use of colour in recent American painting. These new paintings of Hoyland’s seem both clumsier than earlier ones but also more daring and individual.

[Review of Hoyland’s 1969 solo show at Waddington Galleries, London]
© Guy Brett / The Times