John Hoyland RA (1934-2011) was a British painter known for his use of vibrant colour in producing abstractions which wavered between depth and flatness by layering harmonious and contrasting colours in compositions of irregular shapes. He is perhaps best known for his seminal series, ‘Power Stations’ (1964-1982). “Paintings are a seduction, one develops a relationship with these inanimate objects which becomes a bond like a living person, a mirror, a realm of elusive power,” he once mused. “Art plays a game of structural truthfulness, it becomes alive. It contains and understands ecstasy through colour as light. The artist must try to make every song sing and push beyond the fixing of appearances.”
Born in Sheffield, he studied at the Sheffield College of Art and later the Royal Academy in London, where he was remonstrated by a professor for painting abstractions. In 1964, Hoyland travelled to New York where he met Robert Motherwell and Mark Rothko, both of whom had a lasting impact on his work. After returning to England, Hoyland’s reputation grew, culminating in the artist’s first solo exhibition in 1967 at Whitechapel Art Gallery. Over the following decades, his work continued to strive to provide a sense of wonder in the viewer. Retrospectives of his paintings have been held at the Serpentine Gallery (1979), the Royal Academy (1999) and Tate St Ives (2006). In 1982 he won the John Moores Painting Prize, and in 1998 the Royal Academy’s Wollaston Award.
Today his works are held in many public and private collections including the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Damien Hirst’s Murderme Collection, among others. In September 2010, Hoyland and five other British artists including Howard Hodgkin, John Walker, Ian Stephenson, Patrick Caulfield and R.B. Kitaj were included in an exhibition entitled ‘The Independent Eye: Contemporary British Art from the Collection of Samuel and Gabrielle Lurie’, at the Yale Center for British Art. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1991 and was appointed Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy Schools in 1999.