Celebrating my birthday with David Hockney is becoming a tradition. Well, I’ve done it twice if that can counts as a tradition. In 2012 I was thrilled by the fabulous ‘A Bigger Picture’ exhibition at The Royal Academy. It remains one of the most memorable exhibitions I’ve been too. This year I went along to see the exhibition celebrating 60 years of his work showing at Tate Britain.
David Hockney is almost 80, and this exhibition brings together an extensive selection of his most famous works celebrating his achievements in painting, drawing, print, photography, and video across six decades.
I find myself especially drawn to the Californian paintings from the 1960’s.The way Hockney captures the Californian light is spectacular; he paints skies and swimming pools so blue I want to dive right in. Sunlight shimmers and dances off the water in these paintings amid an array of vivid blues and greens that seem to intensify the longer you look.
During the 1990’s, Hockney painted vast spaces of the American landscape with much attention given to the Grand Canyon. I can’t imagine how one could begin to paint something so vast — and yet Hockney does. He does it so well that the unbearable blazing heat is palpable with colors so bright I found them scorching to look at. Burnt orange, ochres, and deep reds capture the climate perfectly. I viewed these paintings, while in a cool English climate, somehow jarred.
Whenever I wander around exhibitions, I often scribble notes in the little guides that are given — it helps me capture what I’m feeling at the time. On the page describing the room that houses Hockney’s 2006 paintings of the Yorkshire wolds landscape, I have written “This room makes me happy”. On reflection, I think what I was feeling was familiarity. Yorkshire is not a county I know especially well and yet these glorious paintings captured a light and space which was was recognizable and certainly calming.
The joy of the British changing seasons was displayed brilliantly on four huge video screens. Each screen showed the same road during a different season. Cameras were attached to vehicles and driven along the road so that each scene was constantly moving. It was joyful and completely mesmerizing.
It was an absolute treat to see so many inspiring works of art in one place — and so interesting to see David Hockney’s influence and how his style changed directions over the decades. I felt stirred by so many of these paintings. That, to me, is a sign of a very good exhibition.
I went along on the first day of the Easter school holidays which wasn’t perhaps the best time as it was incredibly busy but I was able to block out the crowds. As is the way with exhibitions, once you move away from the first couple of rooms the crowds tend to thin anyway.
Article by Angela Vincent Of Changing Pages | The Black Lion is a humble interdisciplinary journal that values your voice. Visit the submissions page to learn more about submitting to the Journal’s sections or to The Wire’s Dream Magazine. | Copyright Policy
Header image “Garden with Blue Terrace 2015”. Images from Tate Britain.