NEWPORT STREET GALLERY: Power Stations (Paintings 1964-1982), John Hoyland

Dedicated to showing works from Damien Hirst’s extensive art collection, Newport Street Gallery opened its doors to the public in 2015. The space itself is the product of converting three listed buildings – constructed in 1913 as studios for the West End’s theatrical scenery painters – into a light and airy venue to display the work of many celebrated artists.

This retrospective exhibition of John Hoyland’s large scale abstract paintings marks the gallery’s launch, and is the perfect opportunity to see artworks by this leading non-figurative painter en masse.

2.1.66 (left), 9.11.68 (right), John Hoyland

From controlled applications of colour to a freer and perhaps more erratic painting style, Hoyland’s work varies greatly. The exhibition has been masterfully curated so that these developments in Hoyland’s approach to his practice are clearly visible as you journey through the spacious gallery.

29.12.66 (left), 17.7.69 (right), John Hoyland

From fiery reds and oranges to a more subdued palette of beige, cream and brown, the vast range of paintings on display gradually evolves, revealing Hoyland’s inner emotions and his fascinating exploration of space, colour and movement. The paintings on show in the first few rooms appear slightly more restrained and methodical than those exhibited as you progress through the gallery space where Hoyland’s style becomes less ordered and more expressive and energetic.

23.2.71 (left), 26.2.71 (right), John Hoyland

Another significant characteristic of Hoyland’s work is the names he gives each piece, titling each of his earlier paintings after the date of completion. Due perhaps to an unwillingness to tie down the content of his paintings to any recognisable or representational elements, Hoyland hereby ensures that what the viewer sees and feels is solely a personal interpretation.

Longspeak 18.4.79 (left), Memory 8.3.80 (right), John Hoyland

Here at Syndicut, we are especially drawn to Hoyland’s unapologetically vibrant colour palette used in the above paintings. The luminous yellows, oranges and blues really catch the eye, in contrast with large blocked in areas of duller pigments. These works incorporate thick, impasto layers where Hoyland has used palette knives, painted sheets of newspaper and even his hands to transfer the brightly coloured paints onto the canvas, ingeniously creating blurred edges and softer lines juxtaposed against more defined patches of colour.

Various Installation Views, Power Stations (Paintings 1964-1982), Newport Street Gallery

While Hoyland’s practice is abstract, his painting process is not as chaotic or disorderly as some of his paintings may seem – “I spend a lot of time looking for structures and looking for things to hang a painting on. You’ve got to have a structure otherwise you’ll just paint chaos” – each composition has a structure and a system, inspired by forms and sights encountered by chance on his travels and in day-to-day life.

Advance Town 29.3.80 (left), Lucky Star 7.2.82 (middle), Cobalt Glide 10.11.80 (right), John Hoyland

Influenced heavily by his experiences of the Abstract Expressionist movement, John Hoyland’s work significantly progressed since 1950s. From solid, hard-edged fields of colour in the sixties to a looser, gestural approach to painting in the seventies and eighties, Hoyland continued to explore colour, but also new ways to apply and manipulate it to achieve range of painterly qualities.