Tate Britain, London, UK
This is one of the more sombre of a series of paintings containing circle motifs, begun by Hoyland in 1983. In a letter to the compiler dated 25 January 1990, the artist described this series as ‘more open-ended than some of my earlier work, where the forms were developed through a more gradual metamorphosis’. This painting consists of thinly poured layers of paint, built up to form a dark ground on which the artist has placed a black, sprawling, freely painted shape. The edges of the canvas provide evidence of lilac, white, yellow and orange underpainting. In three of the corners Hoyland has introduced more thickly painted circular forms. These are painted in two or more shades of red (top right), yellow (bottom right) and orange (bottom left). This third disc is almost cancelled by a dark swirl of black over-painting. In his letter to the compiler the artist said that 'Gadal 10.11.86' was painted in his studio at Charterhouse Square, London. The painting process involved building up the paint in layers over a number of days, so that each new pouring modified or enhanced the preceding colours. The shapes were then added, in a heavier impasto, which was in turn reworked, so that a resolution between figure and ground was found. Hoyland wrote he did not think that he had made any small related canvases or works on paper ‘except for small drawings which I always make to examine possibilities on a large scale’.
When 'Gadal 10.11.86' was first exhibited, John McEwen wrote in the catalogue that Hoyland's aim in his art ‘has always been the greater liberation of form and colour’. McEwen noted that a pattern had emerged, whereby one series of paintings tended to build up a particular form, while the next broke it down. Out of this fragmentation emerged the new form. He described how the rectangular compositions of the 1970s grew almost to the margins of the canvas, and were then pushed back to the diagonal and were finally fragmented into a series of smaller rectangles. These in turn became less defined and were gradually transformed into triangles which, when broken down, gave birth to the circles of the extended series to which Gadal belongs.