Sunday, 4 May 2014

I'm a slow developer

Dulwich Picture Gallery from the restaurant
I've never quite connected with David Hockney's work. I've found his paintings of Californian swimming pools puzzling and some of his watercolour portraits bordering on dreary. I've sometimes wondered why he is so influential. I think this rather harsh view of his work has a lot to do with my own slow development as an artist. For example I remember that I didn't like eating olives until I was well into my 30s. Now, it seems, I'm only beginning to appreciate David Hockney's work now I am in my 50s.

Last weekend my husband said how interesting he found Hockney's spring landscape drawings that were featured in the Saturday Guardian Review: 19.04.14. I was going to overlook it but I am glad I didn't. I became quite engrossed in studying the marks he made to describe the views as they changed over time. Hockney says in the piece that each drawing took two days to do, so, even though he has had a minor stroke he still has the physical stamina to embark on a series of drawings and follow it through to the end. I found this alone impressive: the only time I have set myself a similar task was when I embarked on my Drawing my way round London project and keeping going to the end was the hardest part.

Last Friday I was invited to go and see the Hockney, Printmaker exhibition currently on show at the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Until now I'd only associated Hockney with painting and drawing so this show was a bit of an eye opener for me. This exhibition has been timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of his first print and includes over 100 pieces of artwork concentrating on etching and lithography. You can see A Rake's Progress, 1961-63 a set of etchings which draws its inspiration from William Hogarth's series of the same name but uses the young Hockney in New York as the main character. I appreciated the quality of his draughtsmanship in a way I had never before and I enjoyed his sense of humour when I didn't realise he had one!

I've had little experience of etching so I appreciated my companion pointing out the different techniques he had skilfully employed in different pieces. I also admired the quality of paper he'd used although we both thought that one or two of the frames on some of the drawings were rather odd and very distracting. Having got so much from visiting this exhibition I will certainly pay David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring a visit.

Hockney, Printmaker: Dulwich Picture Gallery, 5 February - 11 May 2014
David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring: Annely Juda Fine Art, 23 Dering Street, London W1, 8 May - 12 July 2014

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