In the decade before his death in 2011, John Hoyland began to reckon with mortality. Confronting his own demise, he painted elegies to departed artist friends and tributes to illustrious artistic forebears. Imagery of the void looms large, but it is a void faced with defiance and vitality, less a rumination on the end than a celebration of life.
This publication explores the paintings Hoyland made in this decade, including his final series, the ‘Mysteries’. Essays by Natalie Adamson, David Anfam, Matthew Collings and Mel Gooding offer a rich and multifaceted account of a complex body of work. Hoyland’s veneration of Vincent van Gogh, his connections to J.M.W. Turner, the use of black as a colour, his deployment of risk and attempts to subvert his own taste, and his development of the cosmic visual language of the Abstract Expressionists are all discussed. Richly illustrated, the book extends our understanding of Hoyland’s late work within both the context of his own career and the story of modern painting as a whole.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition 'John Hoyland: The Last Paintings', Millennium Gallery, Museums Sheffield, Summer–Autumn 2021 (opening 3 July 2021)