John Hoyland

Serpentine Gallery

John Hoyland’s paintings are as much physical confrontations as they are images. Given that he has said he wants to “blow people’s minds” with his paintings, and that they attest, through their often jarring dissonances to an affection for art which “overwhelms and mystifies,” his retrospective runs the risk of canceling itself out in a kind of theatrical overkill. It is a danger worth courting, even though the viewer might end up feeling like a Wagner fan who has sat through one too many Bayreuth Festivals.

The show charts Hoyland’s course from 1967 to the present. It is a largely unwavering progression, a steady process of complication of the rectilinear forms and dramatically contrasting surface effects which first entered his work around 1964. If his progress is, as he has said, “Mainstream” (the architecture of forms ultimately derived from Hofmann, De Stael and Poliakoff) then at last

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