I didn’t know what to expect after all the razz-a-ma-tazz in the press. But now having been to see the exhibition at the RA. I’ve fallen in love with Hockney, his drawings, his paintings and his passion. I simply adored the scale, the colours and energy of Hockney’s work.
What could be better than seeing how he had been inspired by the journeys he had made, in both California and Yorkshire. This exhibition concentrating mainly on his renewed interest in the countryside of his youth around Bridlington where he now lives.
The salt mill and the rows of cottages brought to life one aspect of Yorkshire, while his landscapes, farmland and woodland scenes others in the north. The sheer amount of work was daunting no least as it covered whole walls with watercolours, another with oils and finally a third with prints from his Ipad.
It was interesting to learn of his early life the north and that his mother spent her later life in Bridlington. It all seemed to underpin his passion and emphasise the close connection that these paintings had with his roots. His close friend, who was terminally ill during the time he was painting his landscapes also lived in Wetherby.
It was clear from his modest oils in Eccleshill in 1956, his clusters of trees in charcoal, walls of watercolours, enormous woods in oils, photo-collage and finally the video experimentation that his journey as an artist had been exhilarating.
He was being criticised by some in the gallery for a child-like style and too many unrealistic primary colours, but what is the point of art if it only portrays total realism. Art has to be about something more than pretty pictures.
Hockney obviously loved explorations with photography, juggling images, layering pictures into photo collages e.g The Grand Canyon. Photography in the shape of video footage also had its place in this exhibition where, towards the end, there is an impressive moving montage of video clips taken from a car with nine video cameras attached to it.
Several of the videos depicted the cycle of the seasons, with images taking us on hypnotic journeys down country lanes, while another section brought music, life and humour and a whole new dimension to the word dance.
I was not so keen on the big Hawthorn Hedge. It looked like an invasion of large yellow caterpillars to me, but the smaller ones done is situ were beautiful.
Later the explorations into a huge pile of twisted logs were truly impressive, but in truth I preferred the small atmospheric drawings of the subject rather than the final piece. I could imagine standing in his shoes, looking at that particular landscape through his eyes.
I love Hockney for his humanity, the exploration in the cycle of the seasons and comparing it with the cycle of our lives. Here were the paintings of the joy of spring through to the decay of autumn and the sparkle of a landscape in the snow. One particular tree trunk represented a totem of death.
It was a celebration of a complexity of spirit, as well as a show of draughtmanship and colour.
Was really pleased to see you’ve fallen for Hockney and his work on my own home county the East Riding. Couldn’t get tickets so will have to do with periodic trips to Saltaire! Am so impressed with all you are doing. Chris Jones.