Clear skies and sunshine made for a great day of travelling to the capital, however as I approached Tate Britain, in a strange way I felt somewhat anxious, as the man I watched on television as a child and saw his works in magazines I would soon be surrounded by from every angle. A collection showcasing 60 years of some of his most popular works from the 50’s to the present day.
The paintings, sketches, photography and video were staged in different rooms which represented different periods, travels and moments in his life. Each of these rooms enable you to observe how the painter plays around with abstract and realism. The images explore a vast range of topics, from the relationships between space, the environment and the person in the painting. Also delving into his personal life, covering experiences he had with his parents, friends and past lovers to themes of his sexuality.
Each piece has individual meanings, such as the award winning ‘Peter Getting out of Nick’s Pool’ 1966 ,which won the John Moore Prize. The works he created in Southern California such as ‘Domestic Scene 1963 ‘The Swimming Lesson’ ‘Medical Building 1966 and the painting of his parents ‘My Parents’ 1977 exploring his relationship with his family a year before his fathers death.
The style influences such as Van Gogh which inspire the stunning textural, bold and striking ‘May Blossom on the Roman Road’ 2009, Oil paint on eight canvases. His interpretation of landscapes such as The Grand Canyon, Garrowby Hill and Elderflower Blossom, we are presented with rich layers of colour and bold in the techniques used to produce them. Being an artist the vibrancy and textures created by the brush strokes make such strong statements, being one of the many reasons I fell in love with his work. The large scale abstracts and realist artworks are intriguing encouraging you to question and explore what you see before you.
For Hockney the photography was a complete change of direction, here he experiments with cubism to create photo collages, consisting of individual Polaroids in large rectangle frames which form a grid with white borders. ‘Gregory Swimming’ Los Angeles 1982, saw the use of a variety of shots where you see Gregory in different motions of movement, as he swims around a pool. Like an original film negative, each photo was compiled onto the wall to create the finale piece, being quite playful. The other Composite Polaroid’s of people and environments have the same surreal and detailed view points. Hockney is making the viewer question the nature of perspective and space of each composition.
Towards the end of the exhibition you enter the four installations titled ‘The Four Seasons, Woldgate Wood’. Each wall displays nine video screens showing the different seasonal transformations of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn. A spot called the ‘Tunnel’ was recorded over a year and captures the tones, movement, time, spirit and vitality of life in the trees, foliage and wild flowers. Here you can watch a complete cycle as they rest, grow, develop and die through the four seasons from 2010 to 2011. Watching the transitions and the detail of how light affected the landscape on large multiple screens in high definition, was hypnotising and calming, the viewers in the room were for that moment in a tranquil trance full of serenity. Watching the expressions on their faces and change in their body language was a clear signal these images had a huge effect on the visitors. Art should cause a reaction, interaction or response wether positive or not, it shows the ability to stimulate the senses of the person exposed to it. Thats the beauty of art! As you progress into the final part of the exhibition you see Hockney move into the modern times as he recreates some of his artworks using digital art with an iPad. Exploring and developing his craft continues as the minds of creatives never rest.
Overall it was a history lesson of the iconic man’s artistry, a chance to view one of the most popular British artists of my living time, love him or hate him his work is undeniable remarkable. An unforgettable, memorable pleasure to experience the meaning of David Hockney.