John Hoyland

North Sound


Not on display

John Hoyland 1934–2011
Acrylic paint on canvas
Support: 2286 x 2438 x 26 mm
Purchased 1979

Display caption

Shortly before painting 'North Sound' 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 'North Sound' demonstrates, his handling of the forms in his paintings became looser and more expressive. He explained: 'The structure of form is meant to be a container for colour, a container of feeling'.

Gallery label, September 2004

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Catalogue entry

T02403 NORTH SOUND 1979

Inscribed on reverse ‘NORTH SOUND 15.7.79 HOYLAND’
Acrylic on canvas, 90 × 96 (228.6 × 243.8)
Purchased from the Waddington Galleries (Grant-in-Aid) 1979
Exh: John Hoyland, Serpentine Gallery, September–October 1979 (ex catalogue)

‘North Sound’ and ‘Saracen’ were painted almost two years apart. Yet John Hoyland considers that these works are ‘possibly cousins, at least part of the same family of configurations which go back ... to the early sixties.’ (Conversation with the artist, 23 Sept. 1980). Hoyland paints families of canvases, that is groups of works that have a similar basic format but whose internal colour and formal relationships are modified. These formats may be similar for a considerable period.

Hoyland used not to give titles to his works, preferring to substitute the date on which he considered the work finished. A friend suggested a number of titles to him and he now creates his own. However, he considers these neither explanatory nor descriptive. Rather he hopes that they will provide some sort of counterpoint which will not limit the possibility for change and will also allow each individual to make multiple readings. He expects there to be some resonance between the title and the work.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1978-80: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1981


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