Shortly after painting 'Saracen', Hoyland stated: 'Paintings are not to be understood, they are to be recognised. They are an equivalent to nature, not an illustration of it'. Since executing his first abstract works in 1958, Hoyland's paintings have proclaimed their self-sufficiency as visual facts or events. In the 1960s Hoyland was mainly involved with formal issues of scale, colour, and the relation of shapes. In the 1970s he began to invest these elements with a greater emotive significance. Consequently, as 'Saracen' demonstrates, his handling of the forms in his paintings became looser and more gestural. He explained: 'The structure of form is meant to be a container for colour, a container of feeling'.