It was definitely not that I don't like Hockney, his work and his ideas – I do! . . . as a random pile of books and magazines from my shelf shows – the earliest is inscribed inside "October 9th 1979", I must have bought that one with my birthday money while I was still at school.
So I booked a ticket for yesterday afternoon and after a picnic of sushi (from itsu, not bad 6/10 but the rice could've been a lot better!) eaten sitting among the St David's Day daffs in Green Park; I strode into the courtyard of Burlington House, Piccadilly . . .
David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture.
If you're not able to get there yourself, I can recommend watching the BBC Culture Show Special David Hockney: The Art of Seeing. It's available on iPlayer until 5th March.
I was so pleased that I'd watched it before going to the exhibition because having seen David Hockney guide Andrew Marr through the galleries, I had a list in my mind of things to look out for.
Hockney is fascinated with the difference between the human eye and the single view-point of a camera lens; this is a common thread running through all his work. He is also fascinated by the technology of visual communication, he veers off into experiments in a new medium but always returns to basics . . . looking and drawing . . . the hand and the eye . . . before surging on again with the energy and enthusiasm.
One thing I was keen to see (and I think I got this idea from the TV programme, I'll check when I re-watch it) was how the large multi-canvas 'en plein air' paintings work up close. Yes, the huge 6 canvas paintings of Woldgate Woods through the seasons are magnificent seen from the entrance to the gallery, but I wanted to stand a couple of feet away where Hockney had stood while he painted.
The result is like the visual equivalent of surround-sound, if you've got a ticket try it when you're there and let me know what you think.
I've tried to replicate the effect using a postcard of 'Woldgate Woods 6 and 9 November 2006' and my iPhone camera – the oblique close-up view makes the image become almost 3D. I'd love to live with one of this series on my wall.
What else did I like a lot? The watercolour landscape studies done from observation in 2004 are a tour de force; the iPad sketches of the arrival of Spring in 2011 are sheer brilliance; the multi-camera films of the Yorkshire Wolds through the seasons is a lesson in finding beauty in any corner – your garden or the field at the end of the road; and the charcoal studies of trees – will (I hope) inspire me to sketch trees from life!
Things that didn't really grab me? The Hawthorn Blossom series (though after I'd seen the multi-screen film of the hedges in blossom they did make more sense) and the Sermon on the Mount 'A Bigger Message' . . . mmm? still not sure about those.
Knowing that I was going to see Hockney's iPad sketches using the Brushes App, I realised that it was some months since I'd used Brushes or Vellum on my iPhone; so when I had a few minutes I made some very quick sketches (no more that 5 minutes).
Waiting for the train to London
late morning 1 March 2012
Lunchtime in Green Park
1 March 2012
In the Royal Academy Resturant
(a very welcome cup of tea)
late afternoon 1 March 2012
On the way home on the train
early evening 1 March 2012
Now inspired to do more sketching outdoors
(watercolours and digital)
and that's no bad thing!