The Hamilton Spectator
Warren Hoyano’s paintings verge on abstraction with absorbing detail that rewards close attention
“I try to stop on the side of enough as opposed to a bit more or too much,” says Warren Hoyano.
This, I think, is the essence of Hoyano’s minimalist aesthetic.
“My style has no definite endpoint but at a certain stage the thought of overworking a painting enters my mind,” he adds.
Hoyano is the creator of five huge, and hugely absorbing, paintings on show in Folded Pieces: Maps of a Blind Brush at You Me Gallery. One of them is nearly 10 feet wide and eight feet high, not unheard of for an oil or acrylic, but Hoyano’s paint of choice is watercolour — and he’s painting on paper.
Hoyano, who has been exhibiting for almost 20 years, has always worked with watercolour, a not overly forgiving medium. His sources of inspiration, he says, include Japanese ink painting and the watercolour and tempera paintings of American artist Andrew Wyeth.
“I like the combined strength and subtlety of watercolour,” he tells me.
In some of his earlier works, both wall and floor pieces, he took on familiar images such as hearts and flags, reducing them to barely there, yet still recognizable, shapes. In this exhibition, he looks into maps.
“There is a desire within me to make things and if I have a vision of an image, I feel a commitment to make it real,” he says.
His style verges on abstraction, with absorbing detail that rewards close attention. He makes marks that morph into fluid shapes and numerous lines that float weightless against a white space. He layers, folds and pieces together the paper he paints on, contributing to a textured surface and an irregularly shaped work of art. This process also helps to create marks that recall the creases in a folded road map that has been opened.
“Maps of a Blind Brush 05,” the largest work, invites exploration. Hundreds of fine lines like endless threads or nerves or capillaries meander across the entire surface of the paper. If one thinks of a map, the lines could be roads, and a
ribbon of blue winding down the right side hints at a river. Patches of pink, green and yellow could represent parks and places of interest. “Maps of a Blind Brush 01” has a more rounded shape, with uneven edges that look torn. This shape is echoed by black, red and blue dots that have been dripped and spattered onto the wrinkled surface. They are balanced by slightly bigger splashes of pale pink, yellow and green. All of them are entangled with dark lines that criss-cross the paper. Hoyano says he paints quite spontaneously, hence the “blind brush” reference in the exhibition’s title.
“My line work has an element of automatism,” he says. “Drips and splatters walk the line between control and accident. The markmaking, staining, fragmentation, drips and splatters represent the blind, as in accidental, workings of the passage of time and circumstance.”
Given that Hoyano’s earlier paintings contained familiar images, might some of these more abstracted paintings contain a recognizable subject? On the far left of “Maps of a Blind Brush 04” a greyish shape suggests part of an antlered animal from a prehistoric wall painting.
I put it to him, not knowing whether this will sit well with him. He’s generous.
“I like to think of finished art as autonomous from its creator,” he says.
“Thus, the interpretations of viewers of the art are as valid as the artist’s thoughts and intentions. I did not purposely put the image there. As to prehistoric cave art, I have been influenced by it in ways such as its minimalism, limited palette and its forceful use of black pigment.”