David Hockney – A Bigger Picture

I went to the Hockney exhibition – A Bigger Picture – quite some time ago (March 3rd I think) but I didn’t post about it. I wrote about  it in my paper journal, but not online – so here it is transcribed.

It was STUNNING in every sense of the word. Film, iPad drawings, oil paintings, sketchbooks – all amazing…

The guy is prolific. He works and works and works (if only I could make art for a living and give up the day job!) and produces and produces and produces. His mark-making is legendary and exquisite. It’s all very well reading about such things and their theory, but it’s very different to see them in practice so skillfully executed. So many of the works are an absolute ‘personification’ of every painting theory you could learn: expression of the lesser-seen colours; how colours recede and push to the front; how marks can create form and scale. All technically amazing and that’s not mentioning the embracing for new technology. Although some of the colours he used were ‘false’ they weren’t so far removed that they weren’t seen in the landscape (he has made me look out of the window with fresh eyes – especially on the train). But the colours are just exaggerated, the dominant colours are regressed and the lesser-seen are made the majority. Shapes are simplified and colours are solid; details are bold and layered – no fussy details. Palettes are limited. The scale is the most impressive thing. The enormous scale of the works allow them to be immersive, broad and simple.

I’ve been really influenced and inspired by this exhibition – and of course it’s all about the landscape. But it has made me question my own work: mainly regarding the validity of my chosen medium. What would a ‘response’ be if it had been ME making this work in FELT? I fear it would be regarded as craft and therefore invalid in the art world. But why? Why does changing only the medium invalidate a piece? If David Hockney made this in felt (at this stage of his career) would it be invalid? Is it just because I am an unknown?

Nonetheless, this exhibition was inspiring and made me look at things differently. It helped me push through a sticking point in my exploratory project – I was struggling to see how I could do what I wanted to do in felt – but as soon as I thought about the exploration of these words in paint, I could see it easily. So I switched mediums to explore what I needed to. I also meant I could explore scale – which was fairly impossible in a short time frame in fabric.

I was so impressed with this exhibition I was inspired to read his conversations (A Bigger Message) with Martin Gayford – not something I would usually choose to do – which was a joy to read.

Here are my favourite pieces from the exhibition – followed by a video from the RA site.

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