JOHN HOYLAND paintings 1964–1982
until 3rd April 2016
Damien Hirst's brand new Newport Street Gallery and its curly staircases are vast: you could say it's of cathedral proportions.The building occupies the whole length of a street which was once a terrace of listed industrial buildings, purpose-built in 1913 to serve as scenery painting and carpentry studios for the booming local and West End theatres The ground and upper floors within the five buildings are continuous and flexible enough to be used for large and small exhibitions.
To get there from my house I first walk along Lambeth Walk, made famous by the 1937 musical Me and My Girl and then the 1942 American musical film Me and My Gal starring Judy Garland. Soon I turn into Old Paradise Street. I used to think that this name had a religious origin but am informed it had more to do with earthy pleasures.....
To celebrate the opening Damien Hirst’s Power Stations exhibition presents 33 of John Hoyland’s large-scale paintings, dating from 1964 to 1982, drawn from Hirst’s own collection of over 3,000 works of art, many of which he intends to exhibit free to the public. Ben Eastham, co founder and editor of The White Review, writing in the London Review of Books (7.1.16): says Hoyland is 'concerned purely with the sort of overwhelming sensual experience only non-figurative painting can create, an experience utterly removed from our everyday visual life. Painting, in other words, for painting's sake'.
'Paintings are there to be experienced … [they] are not to be reasoned with, they are not to be understood, they are to be recognised.' (1979)
An interesting conversation between Damian Hirst (l) and John Hoyland (r) was published in the Royal Academy magazine (28/8/2015)
In 1998 with my daughter I glimpsed a small acrylic painting in a Mayfair Gallery window - the first time I saw John Hoyland's work. It shone like a jewel. A year later I bought this small print. That was the year when he had an exhibition at the Royal Academy. I visited it on a Sunday morning. The top floor gallery was flooded with light, it was 10am and for 10 precious minutes I was alone. You don't forget occasions like that.
John Hoyland's work needs space, which is why the Newport Street is a perfect venue.