Saturday 25 February 2012

Hockney, Bright Splashes of Colour and Directionality

There is something about directionality.
I come down to London to visit daughter Debora and the lovely Sean. Once here I go up to town on various days to the RA to see the Hockney Exhibition; to have lunch at Villandry  with my agent Juliet; to research  Victor West at Kings College. Then tomorrow I will, reluctanlty,  go home back up North.
The Hockney Exhibition is about scale. It is after all entitled The Bigger Picture. The Royal Academy is architecturally suited to these massive paintings and montages of paintings; the magisterial enfilade of tall rooms leading through (directionality again!)  large archways from a central hub is so well suited to this blazing collection of recent work which is admirably and appropriately contextualised in earlier work showing us how Hockney arrived at this high point in his career where his consummate skill and massive imagination here addresses trees and landscapes as  living, writhing, sensate things. Or in one case dying things in - my favourite series - paintings of a felled tree - the clean,  curved, greeny yellowy logs lying alongside their stumped parent beside the road leading through the trees.

The impact is astonishing. As the milling crowd enters the central hub there are gasps of appreciation at the long perspectives, the enormous canvases, the original rendering of the familiar. The eye is invaded by the vibrant, electric blues, the pulsing purples, the gorgeous greens, the tender yellows, the teasing greys. Then - most - dramatic- the reds and oranges that  bring a shimmering transatlantic echo of the Grand Canyon right into  the Yorkshire Dales.

Then there is a change of scale and you have to move right in discover delicate treats in terms of Hockney's artist's notebooks - large, small, fan-shaped. These are full of the  notes, drawings and inspirations - clearly the genesis of the larger work. These books  are testament to the fine draughtsmanship upon which the artist bases the flaring creativity that surges into his  experimental expression in the large canvasses,  projections and collages. The notebooks are set under glass covers but above them on screens you can see them -  the delicately wrought drawings.

Then there is a section on the way he uses iPad as drawing/painting tool. This is very interesting and does indeed bring his method up to date. However for me they are less personal and than the drawing or the painting: something of  a veil between the see-er and the artist.

No small view can do justice, though, to the larger than life painting of this artist. Interestingly the paintings and drawings are full of directionality. Repeatedly Hockney takes you down the same roads and pathways through landscapes, down woodlend paths, through a hole created by overhanging trees in woodlands, along motor roads, up mountain escarpments, through clouds hanging low between mountains.

 I love the direction, the energy, the vibrancy, the youth of this exhibition. It inspired me to think of my own directions.

I hope you manage to see this exhibition if you go up or down or across to London.


  1. The exhibition sounds fantastic! Thinking about directionality - my north eastern relatives always talked about coming 'through' to Cumbria to see us. 'We're coming through at the weekend' the letter would read. Interesting use of language.

  2. As you know Wendy I too was knocked out by the exhibition! I would stick my neck out and say this will be the exhibition of the decade - and I know there's great competition out there with the Frued and Grayson Perry, Leonardo even!

  3. Hello Kathleen. I am familiar with that use of 'through'. Maybe this use of language adds meaning, has more depth. It's certainly has more depth than the word'to'.

    I love your 'exhibition of the decade' allusion, Avril. There are so many dimensions to this exhibition that would support that claim...

    Thanks for dropping by.




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