This large, almost square work is dominated by an uninflected field of bright red. Imposed on this field are five circular shapes, arranged to create an arc in the painting’s upper zone. Only one of the shapes is a perfect circle; the others, placed on three edges of the canvas, appear cut off by the limits of the support. Hoop-La is one of a group of paintings made in 1965 in which the artist placed circles and sectors of circles on a flat monochromatic ground.
Jeremy Moon was from a generation of British abstract painters that emerged in the early 1960s. Before becoming an artist full time, he studied law at Christ’s College, Cambridge (1954–7) and then worked in advertising. In 1960 he visited Situation: An Exhibition of British Abstract Painting at the Galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists, London, and later commented: ‘[it was] like getting the whole message of what modern painting was about’ (quoted in Livingstone, [p.1]). Quitting his first career in 1961, he studied ballet for six months and then devoted himself to art, producing sculptures before turning entirely to painting. In 1962 he was included in the Young Contemporaries exhibition at the RBA Galleries. His work was noticed by Alex Gregory-Hood (1915–99), director of the Rowan Gallery, London, who would go on to exhibit Moon’s paintings through the remainder of the artist’s short career.
Moon’s colourful, hard-edged aesthetic evokes the work of American abstract artists, including Ellsworth Kelly (b.1923), who had his first solo exhibition in London in 1962. In Kelly’s large-scale paintings of the 1960s, such as Blue, Green, Red II 1965 (Seattle Art Museum) and Red White
1966 (L02763), the play with form, colour, space and straight or curving line to create strong visual impact, finds some parallels in Moon’s art.
Dating from his early period, Trellis 1962 (T01841), establishes many of the formal concerns that would preoccupy Moon during the 1960s and early 1970s. An uncompromisingly geometrical visual language, and the use of bright but flattened colours, would be constants in his work. However, in Hoop-La, Moon eschews the use of lines and grids that characterised Trellis and many of his later works, represented in Tate’s collection by Untitled [9/68] 1968 (T12242), Untitled [8/71] 1971 (T12243) and Untitled [‘72] 1972 (T12239).
In Hoop-La, Moon’s juxtaposition of red and blue produces a sense of spatial illusion despite the resolutely flat manner in which the colours have been applied. The blue circles ‘look like holes cut out from the ... surface’ (Livingstone, [p.2]), and a sense of movement is invoked by their curving arrangement. Moon’s playful composition and the title – the name of a fairground game in which hoops are thrown over pegs – give this painting a distinctly light-hearted feel.
Jeremy Moon: Paintings and Drawings 1962-1973, Serpentine Gallery, London 1976.
Marco Livingstone, ‘Moon-Gazing: Watching Paintings Unfold’, in Jeremy Moon – A Retrospective, exhibition catalogue, Arts Council, London 2001, [pp.1–5], reproduced [p.14].
Janet MacKenzie, ‘Mr Jeremy Moon Experiments. Jeremy Moon: Drawings and Collage’, Studio International, May 2005, http://www.studio-international.co.uk/search/index.asp
, accessed 30 July 2009.