'A colour is used as the key for a painting or series of paintings. Red or green for example, can satisfy two polarities of some kind or an antithesis, like black and white ... Colour is used instinctively, not intellectually. But once an instinctive choice is made, the colour tends to be played through as a long sequence. Where to put colour is the crucial question and decision, and always the problem ... The importance of process, the way the paint is put on, is constant. I cannot accept either the wholly conceptual or purely fortuitous...The painting must come to life in its own way, as a natural process'.
(John Hoyland quoted in the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, John Hoyland paintings 1960-67, London, Whitechapel Gallery, 1967, pp. 13-14)
In 1964 John Hoyland visited New York for the first time. Chosen to exhibit in Whitechapel’s New Generation Show by Bryan Robertson earlier in the year it was only natural for Hoyland to seek out the studios of artists such as Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski during his visit. It was however the introduction to the critic Clement Greenberg and the subsequent exposure to the work of Hans Hoffman that was to have a more profound influence on Hoyland’s approach to painting. Hoffman’s explorations into form, colour and space interestingly reaffirmed Hoyland’s admiration for the sculpture of fellow British artist Anthony Caro. The bold flat planes of primary coloured steel projected in space encouraged Hoyland to explore the physical surface of the painting itself.
In 29.5.68 Hoyland creates a dialogue between the perceived and actual 3 dimensionality of the work. In the use of the dazzling greens and reds set against the matt black, Hoyland explores the nature of recessive and emerging colour combinations while simultaneously building up thick, smooth areas of impasto juxtaposed to the thinly covered, coarsely textured canvas. It is a work of high contrast and contradiction. Far from looking for truths, Hoylands work is full of dichotomies. Statements left hanging. Questions unanswered.