In a world exclusive exhibition, the National Gallery of Victoria presents David Hockney: Current, a major solo exhibition on arguably Britain’s most influential and prolific artist, focusing on the last decade of Hockney’s art practice.
An influence on both contemporary art and critical art thinking, this exhibition explores more than 1200 of Hockney’s works, many of which have never before been seen in Australia. Alongside Hockney’s recognisable paintings are a sizable collection of digital drawings, which Hockney creates using his iPhone and iPad, video works, and photography.
A rare insight into the creative artist’s mind, the apps used by Hockney to create his digital drawings record each stroke by meticulous stroke, which are played back to us on repeat throughout the exhibit. In a talk with NGV Director Tony Ellwood, who describes this unique display into his practice as courageous, Hockney brushed it off as part of his creative process, and simply part of his oeuvre to display.
Further to these displays, the digital drawings, which Hockney creates constantly, present a new chapter in the artist’s repertoire in which the personal becomes public. Not an entirely new concept for Hockney, a key artist during the Pop Art movement, his thoughts and life are depicted in his daily digital drawings, and displayed with as much prominence as his portraits or landscape works. Intriguing and charming, these drawings allude to a life filled with art and travel, include banalities of everyday life, and a sharp Yorkshire wit.
On loan from The Tate, the 12 metre monumental landscape painting Bigger Trees Near Warter is comprised of 50 canvases, along with two smaller digital reproductions on the adjacent walls. A combination of painting en plein air and digital painting in the studio, it is Hockney’s largest work.
Together with other landscape digital paintings, such as studies at Woldgate, East Yorkshire, and Yosemite National Park, California, Hockney’s landscape series culminate in an extraordinary multiple-point perspective video work, The Four Seasons, Woldgate Woods (Spring 2011, Summer 2010, Autumn 2010, Winter 2010). Displayed in a dedicated, immersive room, each season is displayed on 9 high definition screens, each with a unique focal point, yet connected on the same journey through the landscape. It is both luring, yet challenging, questioning the number of ways we may look at the one object.
Along with embracing new and digital technologies, there is a 60 metre gallery dedicated to displaying the paintings of Hockney’s 82 Portraits & 1 Still Life. Inviting sitters for a three day period, Hockney’s rigorous approach to painting was explored in this project, first displayed at London’s Royal Academy. A fantastic study, each subject’s’ personality jumps from the canvas – with the possible exception of the still life, in place of a sitter who was unable to attend, but captivating nonetheless.
With major retrospective future exhibitions at The Tate, Centre Pompidou, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, luckily for us Hockney, at 79 years of age, shows no signs of slowing down.
This summer exhibition fills the walls with colour and life, and the NGV Friday Night events present a unique collection of talented musicians, performers, and DJs from around the world, concluding with US provocateur Amanda Palmer.
David Hockney: Current
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition continues to 13 March 2017
Admission fees apply
For more information, visit: www.ngv.vic.gov.au for details.
Image: David Hockney, Self-portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219) / Self Portrait, 21 March 2012 (1223) / Self-portrait, 25 March 2012, No. 2 (1233). iPad drawing. Collection of the artist – © David Hockney
Review: Jasmin Bardel