I had the delightful opportunity to see Hockney’s new exhibition at the Royal Academy. I’m a big fan of Hockney, not all of his work but I feel he has something like no one else especially in regards to the photographic. His portraits are my favourites so as you can imagine I was slightly worried going to an exhibition of his made up solely of landscapes. However, I should never have worried as there were so many surprises.
I’d studied Hockney’s early work at school, especially being fascinated by a book in our library of his photo collages which after seeing a few times became a gimmick. Yet to be confronted with an image I had picked apart so much let me relive that first discovery. That first moment where you realise what he has done. It was wonderful.
I realise the exhibition has been blogged and spoken about by anyone and everyone but I’d like to use this opportunity just to say what jumped out to me the most. In this piece above his use of colour to push you away from others yet keep to the naturalness of the scene is genius. The delicate pink of the flowers in the shadows of the trees and the red orange of the leaves and earth in the light work beautifully together for example. I’m intrigued by his use of 6 canvases in one, when in the exhibition for me they just worked so well. Splitting up the painting like his previous photo collages yet never disturbing the eye. Amongst seemingly natural paintings were ones like the first I have listed on this blog where he moves between fantasy and the real, almost Van Gogh, back to the psychadelic sixties… it was something refreshing.
Walking into the Spring Room you are confronted with two large walls covered in beautiful prints of Hockney’s iPad drawings/paintings, I was spellbound by these. Walking up and down, walking closer and further away. They are at once completely and totally Hockney and yet you are still drawn back to the tool itself. Muchlike all hockney’s work, I like looking at them at a distance. I’m more concerned with the composition, use of colour and form in the paintings as opposed to the brushstrokes and the actual creation of the paintings.
The biggest surprise and probably my favourite element of the exhibition was Hockney’s use of moving image. You walked into a large dark room with 3×6 screens, where hockney had attached 9 cameras to his assistant’s car and had moved through the landscape slowly at different times of year. The cameras aren’t completely ligned up like his collages and so there is a disjointed relationship with the tracking of the movement and yet it is the best sense of 3D I’ve ever come across. It works a lot more like our eyes in that our eyes are not like cameras who can only focus on one view but have peripheral vision and can see much further. The silence of the video is haunting but works beautifully as the snow falls or the wind blows. He also had another surprise as with these landscapes he made some films in his studio with the same technique. I’m a big fan of dance, especially tap dancing and there was a fantastic tap dance routine with dancers in his studio where the bodies of the dancers were pulled and pushed together with the different viewpoints. It was like watching paint come together on a canvas before your eyes.
So there you have it, one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen in a while. Definitely worth negotiating the crowds.