John Hoyland (1934 – 2011) is regarded as one of the leading abstract artists of his generation. Born in Sheffield, he studied at Sheffield School of Art and the Royal Academy, later teaching at the Royal Academy and the Slade.
Hoyland’s artistic interests and style developed concurrently with the Abstract Expressionist Movement in America and it was his regard for these artists that led him to move to New York in 1964. Stylistically he was also influenced by Colour Field painting and was often referred to as “England’s answer to Mark Rothko”.
The artist’s prints, like his canvases, are rich in colour and bold in composition. Though they may appear spontaneous, much preparation and thought is given to the balance of colour and form. For every colour in the print a separate stencil is created through which paint is pushed, gradually building up layers to complete the image. His compositions generally focus on a central cell-like element and this gives the work a definitive structure and focus as well suggesting a biological / natural / stellar form.
His first solo show was in 1964 at Marlboro New London Gallery and his work featured in numerous national and international exhibitions at the Whitechapel and Waddington Galleries throughout the 1970s and 80s. The Serpentine Gallery held a retrospective of his work in 1979; the Sackler Galleries following suit in 1999. His work has also featured in shows at Tate Liverpool, the Barbican Gallery, London, and Gallerie Josine Bokhoven, Amsterdam.
Hoyland has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Purchase Award, a Peter Stuyvesant travel bursary; he was a Prize Winner at the John Moore’s Liverpool Exhibition in 1964 and won first prize in 1982. He received an Arts Council purchase award, joint first prize with William Scott in the Korn Ferry International, and first prize of the Athena Art Award in 1987. In 1998 he won the Wollaston Award for the most distinguished work in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
In 2015, Hoyland’s paintings were chosen to be one of the opening exhibitions at Damien Hirst’s new gallery Newport St Gallery, London. The show entitled ‘Power Stations’, featured works from Hirst’s personal collection – reaffirming Hoyland’s enormous contribution to abstraction, and his revolutionary influence on future generations.
Banner image credit: Michael Birt