Thursday 19 January 2012

Go And See Hockney

You can safely ignore Brian Sewell's peevish review of Hockney at the RA. It's a fantastic show, a tour of remarkable force. A force of nature, offering more separate full-scale works, surely, than a single artist has ever exhibited in such a show. And what scale ! "Bigger Picture" hardly does it justice.

It is certainly possible to see Hockney (
post-portraiture) as a one-trick pony, and that trick is depth: artful, profound and utterly compelling. Depth contrived in a dozen different ways; simple ways, conventional ways, unconventional ways; unsubtle ways, subtle ways. Ways depending on his excellent draughtsmanship; ways depending on tone alone. Ways, paths, lanes, roads, tracks. Depth showing how it can be achieved using the limited methods of Van Gogh; how it should have been achieved by Seurat, Pissaro and Picasso. Depth delivered in so many different ways that Hockney must rank as a serious contributor to the psychology of human visual perception.

He is of course also a great (not to say gaudy) colourist. And he uses colour for more than just stunning effect: in the show there is a neat juxtaposition of a landscape where the distance is given in green, the foreground in red, against another where the colour-roles are reversed. Yet both are wholly representational, figurative, realistic.

His deployment of still photography is well-known: I was less familiar with his work using multiple moving images (all of a piece, just as the stills, with his experiments in perception and representation). His use of the iPad doesn't seem to move anything forward but I'm sure he has fun. His very considerable skill in charcoal is a revelation (and a neat rebuff to Sewell).

And the wall-full of hawthorn blossom is a delight.

A fantastic show.



Anonymous said...

My Nick, you sound like a gushing art critic, he is a Bradfordian, in fact he lived on the same street as my grand parents with his parents a bit before my time though. I do like some of his art especially the recognisable stuff, my own art talent on a scale of 0-10, is about 1/2

Dick the Prick said...

I kinda agree with Mr Anonomous. Have been working in Bradford for a fair while, have great affection for the East Riding where the lad lives now and appreciate his politics and grounding. However, art wise - it seems you either see it or you don't. I can't really separate the gobby raving Yorkshire bender from his art and no amount of LA jazz endears him. Glad he's doing well but non of my business, really.

Electro-Kevin said...

I'm keen to see it.

Some art has intrinsic beauty - some doesn't.

Went to the Tate Modern a few years back with Mrs E-K and spent the day pondering which painting to 'buy' to hang on our wall.

There wasn't one we liked. They were all - we agreed - total shite.

We bought a book called Modern Toss instead.

Scan said...

Sorry ND, I'm with Sewell on Hockney I'm afraid. What a thought!

Anonymous said...

AT least everyone can see the works in the scrum, unlike the teeny da Vincis!