John Hoyland has some new paintings on show at Beaux Arts London. It is always better to see a show of a painter and not a "paint user" which most painters seem to be these days. Hanging a bit of colour onto a predetermined image. There were some decent works on show with his now clear signature style of drawing. Looking across the show I felt there was a generalised choreography at play at times though, with more concern for presenting this look than questioning how the surfaces can reveal the colour in a more expressive and also a more inventive way.
The work starts with a splashed and poured acrylic skin of interference pigments onto a kicked up ground so the effect produces a shimmering pool - this veered at times into artiness. Into this pool the now familiar series of irregular discs and squelched lines which animated these discs, were drawn . Having such an experienced eye, Hoyland can place elements well so things are tastefully arranged in the fields of colour. Animation is also gained with flicked and spattered paint. The colours work on obvious contrasts and harmonies so yellow lifts green, orange lifts red, two blues- dark and light and so on. Although the work is pleasing it did have a touch of laziness about it - which is a shame as working on a smaller scale you would have thought the opposite would occur - more tautness and crispness to the drawing being inside the physical reach of the arm. What was missing was a stronger link between the discs and the grounds .
The overall feeling I had was that the works looked a bit "Olitski light" - with almost identical elements at times. This is not a problem in itself, but if you are going to go there then you had better step up a touch on your drawing and especially your use of colour - Olitski floated flatter elements on fields but they are positively buzzing with energy and have more (literally more) facets of colour blazing through them knitting everything together. This comes from a close study of artists like Tintoretto (I know this to be true as he told me in person once). That sumptuous old master look that he was able to conjure out of his surfaces was hard won. Hoyland's work does not take on this sort of battle preferring a more 'eastern' paired down luxury. However any artist aiming for this kind of look (and it is a kind of look) will always be competing with imagery of natural phenomena , cosmic landscapes, strata in close up. The redeeming feature will (or rather should) be the surface. These surfaces are not exciting enough - yet. As is understood he has recovered from heart surgery and health is more important than work and I'm sure with time and a full regaining of strength so too will stronger surfaces appear. (This experience must have a profound effect surely - though the darker colours claim in relation to this I am not convinced by. This seems a bit too simplistic an appraisal - patronising even.). I left with a sense of wanting a little more from them.