Noela James writes on Pete Hoida at The Malthouse
Origins and Diversions Pete Hoida paintings 1991-2017 in association with SITselect at The Malthouse January-March 2018
“What use painting is to woman or man is unknown, yet it is surely necessary, as attested to by the
caveman and the dandy. I have long pursued a path that avoided the health-plans and dogmas of the
high-priests and the moneylenders, and yet have overthrown nothing but painterly cliches and visual
Over a career of fifty years I have disregarded the demand to produce series of signature works
and failed to subjugate myself to mere talent. I am not looking to produce patterns; each period
of painting has created, or found, its own identity. Sometimes the characteristics of the work,
or foundations, carry over from one year into the next period. Or subside for a time before
reappearing transformed, made new yet again. Paintings from the 2010’s can present aspects of
the 70’s. The colour say, or the motif, or motive force, the brush-stroke, the time-line, the
structure, its translucency or opacity, its serenity or punch. I have eschewed drawing, images,
narrative and subject; I have defied the camera that always lies. I have told only the story of
the brush that lies. I have quarrelled with the canvas and lost. I have found the surface and
ignited it” Pete Hoida 2017
The Malthouse, formerly part of Stroud Brewery, is a formidable venue for an art exhibition. The bare
rustic brick walls and vast height are no problem, however, for Pete Hoida’s central piece, ‘Poet and
Peasant’ measuring a magnificent 178 x 335 cm. The painting completely holds its own and commands the
space with its sublime passages of pastel shades in pistachio, turquoise, eau de nil, yellow and pink,
offset by blocks of rich sumptuous carmine overpainted by muddy purple, smeared yellow into umber,
earthy green and flashes of orange and red. Hoida allows the under painting to show through creating a
rich surface generating space and light.
The two works with exaggerated horizontality are hung very high but still maintain a potent presence.
‘Cork’ has a bold diagonal drive with strong pure colour blocks wedged between midnight blue and black
fields to the top and side, with a bite of light yellow and a bar of pale ochre to hold the composition
in place. ‘Cobalt Patch’ has a steady rhythm of dry colour patches moving from one side of the canvas to
the other with accents of red uniting the visual field. There are margins at either end, holding bands
of colour, a narrower blue on the left and a large area of mixed reds through to orange on the right.
The eye is guided to the central area of cream, red and black by sloping diagonal strokes within the
blue and red margins.
These two works read from side to side allowing the eye to pause at each new block of colour as if reading a scroll.
’Sleeping Bee’ overcomes the constraint of an alcove with light fittings, and shines out with a substantial
field of buttery yellow to the left travelling and narrowing across the canvas into a belt of lighter yellow
merging into lilac grey with a sliver of green in between. The loosely painted blocks in a myriad of colours
from peachy red to sandy umber act as ballast to offset the yellow mass and create a disrupted structure.
The three smaller paintings, ‘Mrs. Joyce’, ‘Kittiwake’ and ‘Vanilla’, have hard edged and deliberate textural elements to them.
They are sweet-toothed brutalist confections punctuated by iced gem motifs, flowing bronze squiggles, volcanic liquorice sheets
and gritty rectangles hovering in front of a delicately painted backdrop of small mineral explosions in gaseous space. The
colour married to the texture is especially compelling.
The most recent painting is ‘High Voltage’, an audacious composition with an ovoid floating in front of a black
rectangular gash, centrally placed for maximum effect, challenging the viewer with its full frontal stance. The
white ground behind holds ghostly images of the underpainting whilst being flanked half way up either side by
panels of black, sienna, cerulean, umber and mint green. The delicate blue and green blocks on opposite sides
are perfectly placed to hold the space and light within the painting. Incidental drips, drags and flicks offset
the pristine dark magenta oval banded by earthy green.
What I admire and like about Pete Hoida’s work is; his exquisite use of a pastel palette in contrast to blended earthy
mixes as well as potent primary colour; his thoughtfully created, poetic compositions with considered placing of
shapes and constructed textures; his deceptively casual and seductive brushwork which, while gestural, feels
completely managed yet free and fluid; and the way he can create space, structure and light with the choices he makes.
Review published on Abstract Critical January 2018