Hockney paints ‘A Bigger Picture’…

8 03 2012

Hockney on his Art – ‘A Bigger Picture’ …

‘The hand moving through time reflects the eye moving through time (and life moving through time).’ (1986)

‘…Every tree is different. Every single one. The branches, the forces in it; they are marvellously different. You are thrilled. This is the infinity of nature.’ (2008) 

‘We see with memory. My memory is different from yours, so if we are both standing in the same place we’re not quite seeing the same thing…There’s no objective vision ever – ever.’ (2009)

‘Looking is a positive act…Teaching drawing is teaching people to look.’ (2011)

‘…painting is an old man’s art.’

‘The iPad is becoming a fantastic tool for me…No other medium using colour is as fast. You can get things down very fast, meaning you can capture quick lighting effects like nothing else.’ (2011)

(David Hockney 1937- )

The ‘critics’ on Hockney – ‘A Bigger Picture’…

‘The Hockney makes your eyes and heart sing – the most ‘alive’ show I’ve ever seen – sheer brilliance on a massive scale.’

Tweeted by Jenny Eclair

(Geriatric stand-up comic available for nice easy voice overs and other sit down radio/telly work…)


‘Incredibly bold and brave colours in the Hockney exhibition @royalacademy. Not how I remember Yorkshire. Wonderful Show.’ 

Tweeted by Jeffrey Archer

(Story-teller, charity auctioneer…would be captain of England’s Cricket XI) 

‘…over-rated, overindulged, and over here. Couldn’t he go back to Los Angeles?’

Andrew Lambirth (‘The Spectator’) – a pukka Art critic!   

‘…vibrant colours, grand scale, innovative techniques – on a par with the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate Modern last year.’

Posted on ‘Facebook’ by Phil Aldridge

(Avid blogger, amateur Art critic – I know what I like!)

Fifty years ago, Bradford born, David Hockney left England behind, believing it to be grey and dreary. He pursued his artistic career beneath the cobalt blue skies and radiant sunshine of Los Angeles, where he made ‘A Big(ger) Splash’ with, what have become known as, his swimming pool paintings.

Earlier this year, the one-time 60’s radical and ‘Pop Artist’ (a title he always rejected) renowned for intimate portraiture, that gets beneath the skin, and ground breaking depictions of homosexual desire, was appointed, by the Queen, to the Order of Merit.

His elevation, aged 74, to a select group of 24 members who have achieved distinction in the arts, learning, science, and public service, served to confirm his status as the leading British artist of his era.  

His selection followed the death of  close friend Lucien Freud, in 2011, who he effectively replaces as the only painter in the order.

Hockney, not one for prizes and awards, but a long time champion of smokers’ rights, having previously declined both a knighthood and a request to paint a portrait of the Queen, responded to the honour with, a typically understated self-deprecating, ‘No comment… Other than it’s nice to know they are not prejudiced against the older smoker.’

Sunday was grey, wet and miserable. At least that was my perception. Armed with ‘fast track’ tickets we skated past the snaking queue of dripping umbrellas, outside London’s Royal Academy, into a world of lustrous colour.

Over the last decade or so, since returning to England, Hockney’s pre-occupation has been with the countryside in a corner of his native Yorkshire, close to the east coast resort of Bridlington, about 64 miles from his hometown of Bradford.

In this area, little visited by tourists, he has taken great delight in an English landscape that, through more youthful eyes, he once considered bleak and uninspiring.By returning time and again to favourite spots, in the countryside around the villages of Thixendale and Burton Agnes, and in Woldgate Woods, Hockney has captured with enormous clarity, the vibrant colours and changing light, that illuminate the English seasons.

Hockney is the first artist, to have been invited by the Royal Academy to mount an exhibition which utilises the vast open spaces, of the London gallery, in their entirety – an honour, never granted to landscape luminaries as Constable and Turner.  

‘A Bigger Picture’ is, indeed, immense, in terms of its scale and coverage, and totally engaging from start to finish.

Upon  entering the exhibition there is an immediate ‘Wow!’ factor emanating from a display of four companion pieces, ‘Three Trees Near Thixendale’ (oil on eight canvases), a series of panoramic views, from precisely the same spot, which articulate both the obvious and more subtle nuances of seasonal changes, utilising a palette of hues (such as turquoise, orange) one wouldn’t usually associate with the Yorkshire countryside.

The ‘show’ concludes with the equally awe-inspiring ‘Woldgate Woods’ (Film), the result of innovative experimentation utilising a set of nine synchronised, high-definition, video cameras attached to a jeep. The footage, taken as the jeep was slowly driven along a country road, burrowing through ‘The Tunnel’, between the trees, is projected simultaneously on eighteen screens – an attempt to recreate how the human eye actually sees.

Revealed, between these artistic bookends, is the totally engaging visual storyof how Hockney, in a period spanning over fifty years, from his art student days – travelling in the Swiss Alps, through the lengthy sojourn in Southern California to his recent Yorkshire homecoming, has represented the landscape around him, using diverse media, techniques and technologies.

There are large scale works from the ’80s, ‘A Bigger Grand Canyon’ and ‘Pearblossom Highway’ (a photographic collage), paintings, en plein air, which pay homage to Van Gogh, ‘Garrowby Hill’ and the show stopping  ‘Winter Timber’ (oil on fifteen canvases – 2009), and finally an amazing 52 part work, created using an iPad, charting ‘The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)’.

‘A Bigger Picture’ closes on 9th April.

If you can get there, do. It will open your eyes. Seeing really is believing…