Catalogue introduction to 'The Black Morar Series' at The Museum in the Park, Stroud, June - July 2013
Peter Hoida: Abstraction and Nature
‘How all things flash! How all things flare!
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest colour of the smallest day...'
‘Well, in truth, colour can only be rendered "non-referential" by suppressing the best of itself,
its natural sensuous propensity to evoke sensations of space directly out of its fulgently or
fuliginously inscribed flatness. And no art of consequence has in the long run entered the hearts
and minds of the art-loving public (the discerning ones) by suppressing the full eloquence of the
medium.’ These wise words of Alan Gouk were written in specific relation to the sources of Pete
Hoida’s extraordinary colour sense: Gouk suggests that, in ways inaccessible to analysis, Hoida’s
colour comes of his daily experience of the countryside around his Gloucestershire home and studio,
through the seasons of the year, with flower bloom and tree leaf, dawn light and shadows of dusk,
and the changing light of soft summer and hard winter.
I have found myself that a visit to any painter’s habitat tends to be strangely illuminating. A
prevailing colour or tonal bias, a quality of light, an opposition of opacity to aerial or aqueous
atmospheric effects, certain persistent forms or shapes: such features seem connected in almost
subliminal ways with aspects of the circumambient world. So it is, surely, as Gouk insists, with
Hoida’s distinctive ‘fulgent and fuliginous’ colourism.
But that is not by any means the full story. Artists carry into their work a particular and unique
sensibility and history of sensation. It is a quality that derives from experiences of colour-pleasure
that long precede their becoming artists. It has become part of their inner aesthetic; it is a component
of their sensibility. It may find time to be assimilated into the synthesizing action of painting,
gesture and stroke, emphatic or light of touch; it is an action that requires a multiplicity of smaller
movements, of eye and hand combined, in the selection and mixing of the colour that will be transported
by brush or palette-knife to canvas. In Hoida’s case there is something utterly personal in his delicious
tonalities, mid-colour purples, pinks, grey-blues, magentas and turquoise, mixed, over-laid, subtly,
I first became aware of Hoida’s painting some ten years or so ago and was struck immediately by two
distinct features: the first was its distinctive colour range, or rather the exquisite tonal variation
that informed every long stroke in those spectacular horizontal compositions. The second was, in fact,
that structural feature itself: it was as if by a painterly paradox Ivon Hitchens’s famously horizontal
abstractions from natural landscape had been turned in the opposite direction, so to speak, and these
beautiful abstract colour movements across the canvas were becoming images of the natural. The surfaces
had their own complexities of natural colour, light and shade; colours restored by memory, conveyed by
the material mix of the brush’s load.
Hoida’s more recent work has become more cosmic in feel. The surface action takes place in formally
structured, tightly controlled horizontal movements of scribble or impasto, set against unfathomable
greyish skies of translucent wash. There is more turbulence, a more immediate surface-versus-depth
drama. But he has also introduced formal, geometric devices that anchor our eyes at strategic moments
to the canvas surface, and disrupt the sensation of natural, phenomenal activity. ‘This is a painting,’
they say: ‘attend to the object itself; observe its mechanisms.’ But who can stop the play of the
imagination? Hoida is a poet: there is nothing in his painting or his poetry that would suggest he
would want to. He just likes to remind us that an artifact is just that: an object made with craft and
cunning, the product of a specific sensibility, a mind and a memory, in time and space.
Mel Gooding 2013
Reproduced from the exhibition catalogue, ISBN 978-0-9562038-9-2