Magazine article The Spectator

Romantic Approaches

Magazine article The Spectator

Romantic Approaches

Article excerpt

JOHN HOYLAND: SCATTER THE DEVILS

by Andrew Lambirth

Unicorn Press, £40, pp. 160,

ISBN 9781906509071

Spectator readers will know that Andrew Lambirth is a romantic, a force for the literary and poetic approach to art criticism, so he is an admirably empathetic guide to Hoyland:

In England the subversive underground Romantic spirit has never run dry, it consistently nourishes art in this country and erupts forth in strange and unexpected ways. The late work of John Hoyland is one such unpredictable manifestation.

Mel Gooding's standard monograph covers Hoyland's career to 2006, but such is the artist's productivity that, despite serious heart surgery last year, many of the excellent colour plates - the majority in the case of the 46 full-page illustrations - are of new paintings.

There is only one spread of unadorned text in Nick Newton's sympathetic design and things are brought to a suitable climax, with a last chapter which includes a run of five full-page plates of truly devil-scattering post-operation paintings; a magnificent and defiant riposte.

The book's stated subject is Hoyland's painting from the late 1990s to the present - he is also a fine printmaker but that, as Lambirth points out, deserves a volume of its own. It complements the monograph yet sketches in enough of the life and career to give an overall view.

The loosely chronological course, interrupted by boxed interventions emphasising influential artists/friends or some of Hoyland's own writing, makes it more of a miscellany than a narrative. One box contains his 2005 eulogy to Patrick Caulfield. …

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