Geoff Rigden

Introduction to PETE HOIDA at SE1 Gallery, exhibition in collaboration with Sandra Higgins Fine Art, May 2008

little eye by Pete Hoida
little eye, July 2000, 35 x 45 cm

In the middle of the last century the painter Patrick Heron declared that ‘the immense dangers inherent in the very nature of our civilisation ….. inhuman mechanistic processes’ demanded that the plastic arts – he specified painting, pottery and weaving (!) – restore the ‘ORGANISM’ upon which ‘the very texture of life is dependent’. The very ACTS of painting, potting and weaving – whatever its quality – in themselves registered a ‘PROTEST’ against ‘TECHNOCRACY’.

Heron applauded science and technology for its ‘brilliantly impersonal power to manipulate matter’ but deplored mankind becoming increasingly controlled by rather than controlling its processes.

The act of painting is – if nothing else – all about the individual being in control. Matisse described how every ‘move’ he made in a painting suggested three more and it’s the dilemma of choice and organisation specific to this medium that fascinates and absorbs an artist like PETE HOIDA.

Art comes out of art but assimilating influences and working out of others is a testing process which demands stamina and tenacity let alone insight and inspiration. Hoida is amongst a handful of under-sung British painters who for decades now have maintained an uncompromising stance derived from artists as temperamentally and stylistically diverse as Ivon Hitchens, Hans Hofmann, Matthew Smith, Nicholas de Stael and Heron himself. (You try out these names on most young painters these days and you may as well ask them the line-up of the Louis Armstrong Hot Five of the 1920’s.)

She Moves Through the Fair by Pete Hoida
She Moves Through the Fair, October 2006, 97 x 245 cm

Hoida lives in rural Gloucestershire and I can’t help associating these not-so-abstract abstracts with its landscape features – like the Cotswold wall-like slabs of the Hofmann-esque ‘Sedge-leveller’ and the more sylvan/estuarine ‘She Moves Through the Fair’ which evokes Hitchens and even Turner. The elongated rectangular formats of these and the cliff-like ‘Uisge Poitín’ inevitably reinforce this suggestion of terrain but the expanse of the support primarily serves to facilitate the formation and spread of pigment which the artist clearly relishes for its own innate expressive qualities.

In contrast to the forceful edge to edge spread of the horizontals the smaller paintings: ‘Vulcan’, ‘Kittiwake’ and 'little eye’ are taut, concise and compressed, which, without subjugating tactility, melds more acutely the components of drawing, colour and shape as an entity with a playfulness that recalls Klee via Ben Nicholson – if that is imaginable.

Hoida’s art belongs to a painterly canon which Heron promulgated both as an artist and critic for over sixty years and this present work is as painterly as it gets. There are degrees of painterliness and within the range of handling and viscosity that the medium allows – between water-colour transparency and full-bodied impasto – Hoida is a deft practitioner.

© Geoff Rigden, Feb 2008