London Art Reviews

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“David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture” at the Royal Academy of Arts

Winter Timber, 2009, © David Hockney, ph. Jonathan Wilkinson

“David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture” at the Royal Academy of Arts

David Franchi,  Wednesday, 25th january 2012

“involved in the use of new technologies”

The return of David Hockney to the Royal Academy of Arts is a great event. “David Hockney RA: A bigger picture” exhibition shows his most celebrated landscape works. The major source of inspiration is the Yorkshire, the English countryside much beloved by the British artist where he is born and returned few years ago to live.

Spanning fifty years of the life of the artist, “David Hockney RA: A bigger picture” has vibrant paintings, many large in scale and created specifically for the exhibition are shown alongside related drawings and films.

David Hockney RA: A bigger picture” includes three groups of new work made since 2005, when Hockney returned to live in Bridlington, showing an intense observation of his surroundings in a variety of media. The emotional engagement with the landscape David Hockney knew in his youth is underlined, as he examines on a daily basis the changes in the seasons, the cycle of growth and variations in light conditions.

David Hockney RA: a bigger picture” focus on the various approaches that Hockney has taken

The Arrival of Spring, one of a 52 part work, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven) © David Hockney, ph. Jonathan Wilkinson

towards the depiction of landscape. Past works from national and international collections includes ‘Rocky Mountains and Tired Indians’ (1965), ‘Garrowby Hill’ (1998) and ‘A Closer Grand Canyon’ (1998) an oil on 60 canvases.

David Hockney RA: a Bigger Picture” has strong connection with the classical paintings of the Old Masters from which it is clearly inspired, a sort of return to the past, elaborated by the huge knowledge and study Hockney has made of their techniques.

The conception Hockney has about the representation of space is traced in this exhibition from the 1960s, through his photocollages of the 1980s and the Grand Canyon paintings of the late 1990s, to the recent paintings of East Yorkshire, many of which have been made en plein air.

David Hockney has always been involved in the use of new technologies and lately he has used the iPhone and iPad as tools for making art. A number of iPad drawings and a series of new films produced using eighteen cameras are displayed on multiple screens, providing a hypnotic visual experience.

The big Hawthorne, 2008 © David Hockney, ph. Richard Schmidt

Highlights of the Royal Academy exhibition works are to be set in the framework of the extensive investigation and attraction with landscape David Hockney has undertaken in his career. The focus of “David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture” is solely on his work on landscape. His body of work, of course, is much larger and it includes many other pieces.

This is the point with this exhibition. The artistic life of David Hockney considered alongside of this exhibition has misplaced some critics. Hockney is considered an enfant terrible. He began to make scandal even in his graduation day when he did it in a shining gold jacket of lamé, and later on with his barefaced gay sexuality and his works on young male nude under the California sun. In 2005 he went back to his native Yorkshire and started to depict the Wolds on enormous canvases. It seems to be a jump back in the past. Or maybe the artist is getting older and therefore more nostalgic. However, these paintings are very good but has lost much of its demystifying impact on society.

David Hockney, OM, CH, RA, (born 9th July 1937) is based in Bridlington, Yorkshire and Kensington, London. He attended the Bradford School of Art before studying at the Royal College of Art (1959 – 1962). Hockney’s stellar reputation was established while he was still a student; his work was featured in the exhibition Young Contemporaries, which signed the birth of British Pop Art.

Sometimes, his works make reference to his love for men. In 1963 Hockney visited New York, making contact with Andy Warhol. A subsequent visit to California, where he lived for many years, inspired Hockney to make a series of paintings of swimming pools in Los Angeles, using the comparatively new acrylic medium and rendered in a highly realistic style using vibrant colours.

Hockney was born with synesthesia; he sees synesthetic colours to musical stimuli. However, it is a

Nov. 7th, Nov. 26th 2010 Woldgate Wood 11:30am and 9:30am, Film Still © David Hockney

common underlying principle in his construction of stage sets for various ballets and operas.

In 1974, Hockney was the subject of Jack Hazan’s film, A Bigger Splash (named after one of Hockney’s swimming pool paintings from 1967). He was elected a Royal Academician in 1991.

In the 2001 television programme and book, Secret Knowledge, Hockney posited that the Old Masters used camera obscura techniques. Hockney argues that this technique migrated gradually to Italy and most of Europe, and is the reason for the photographic style of the Renaissance paintings.

He is a staunch pro-tobacco campaigner. In October 2010 he and 100 other leading artists signed an open letter to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Hunt protesting against cuts in the arts.

“David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture” has been organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. The exhibition has been curated by the independent curator Marco Livingstone and Edith Devaney, the Royal Academy of Arts.

“David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture” is sponsored by BNP Paribas Group.

Showing from 21st January until 9th April 2012.


This entry was posted on January 25, 2012 by in Museums, Reviews and tagged , , , , .


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