There’s been an incredible level of interest in the Royal Academy’s current exhibition David Hockney RA: A Bigger Picture, and not without good reason. It’s the first exhibition of a series of major new landscape works from the Yorkshire artist, who was first approached by the Academy about the exhibition three or four years ago.
Although there is some older work in the show, those pieces of most interest will most likely be those works which have been created for the exhibition – large-scale pieces designed with the galleries of the Academy in mind. These multi-canvas works depict the landscape of East Yorkshire is his inimitable style, reproducing lanes and woodlands in vivid colour. However, there will also be on display a selection of the work that Hockney has produced on his iPad, as well as a series of films created with 18 cameras and displayed on multiple screens.
Although the exhibition covers a period of 50 years, Hockney is quite clear that the show is not a retrospective – the bulk of the work is new and in interview he holds some mild disdain for the “safety” of the retrospective. He also acknowledges the relationship of the space to the work – not least because of the scale of works such as Winter Timber, which uses 15 canvasses and is over 6 metres wide.
Born in 1937 in Bradford, Hockney studied at Bradford School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London, periods of study which were separated by a period working as a hospital orderly – a position he took up for his National Service as a conscientious objector. Having travelled extensively, he has throughout his prolific career been inspired by the Yorkshire landscape, returning to it time and time again at various points throughout his life. Vibrancy, colour and technological experimentation are hallmarks of his style, and some of his most interesting work has been produced with the help of new technologies that at first glance might seem out of step with his interest in the Old Masters; however in some ways it is his investigation of their techniques which has inspired him in this matter.
Hockney’s work with technology has included sending work through a fax machine, using laser-printed images, and creating work which changed dramatically depending on computer-controlled lighting. His interest in techniques used by the Old Masters to achieve accuracy in scale led to his discovery of their use of mirrors and lenses, and in 2001 he published a book on the subject.
More information can be found on the Royal Academy’s website here: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/hockney/ – please note that demand for tickets has been extremely high, and signing up for dedicated email alerts or following on social media is recommended – more information here: http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/hockney/tickets/
The exhibition runs until April 8 at the Royal Academy of Arts, Picadilly, London. Entry is £14 / £13 disabled & over-60s / £9 NUS or ISIC / £4 Income Support & 12-18yrs / £3 8-11yrs / Under sevens free.