The day after having discovered the John Hoyland documentary ‘Six Days In September‘, I learned that a series of Hoyland paintings were being shown at the new Damien Hirst gallery on Newport Street, London. I was interested to see the work, and the new gallery, a 12-15 minute walk north of Vauxhall tube station, past the Queen’s Head pub-turned-bistro, once owned by Charlie Chaplin’s dad. The Newport Street Gallery is a spacious environment on two floors connected by an architecturally elegant winding staircase. The middle gallery on the ground floor has an angled back wall, which appealed to my abstract sensibility.
I was surprised by the sheer scale and ambition of the Hoyland paintings – mural sized, their luminosity is enveloping – I actually felt a perceptual and spacial shift from the three green paintings on the ground floor, something I’ve only experienced with Mark Rothko’s paintings, and clearly there is an influencing factor that is impossible to ignore – we know that Hoyland had visited Rothko in his New York studio. As with any body of work, I have my favourites, but what I am especially drawn to is the detail – layering, drips and unusual colour juxtapositions that would inspire the hardest of hearts. And so I found myself lingering a little longer than expected. I love that Hirst has chosen such an uncompromising abstract painter for this inaugural exhibition.