‘I’m SO clever,’ I thought to myself. ‘If I go to the new Hockney show on a Monday there will be hardly anyone else there. It’ll be lovely and quiet.’
How wrong I was. The queue for tickets snaked out into the middle of the Royal Academy courtyard, and I had to endure a forty minute wait listening to a very posh mother and daughter standing behind me slagging off practically every member of their extended family.
It was worth the wait though. Spread over a dozen rooms in the main galleries, A Bigger Picture is designed to showcase the Yorkshire-born artist’s landscapes, in particular works created in the last eight years, since Hockney’s return to his home county. So lots of trees then? You might ask. Well, yes, there are, but this exhibition is far from boring. Alongside British countryside you also get huge sunset-bright Grand Canyon vistas, vertiginous Yosemite valleys, plus a giant technicolour biblical scene by way of ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ and a seemingly unrelated series of videos featuring tap and ballet dancers. Even the Yorkshire scenes belie the usual ‘it’s grim up North’ aphorism with their purple roads and orange buildings.
Alongside the many vibrant oil paintings – Hockney prolifically documented the changing of the seasons by painting the same scene repeatedly at different times of the year – there are prints on paper from as recently as October 2011 that demonstrate his latest fascination: ‘Hockney delights in the immediacy of the iPad,’ the accompanying text reads. And he uses the touchscreen tool to great effect, employing an app called Brushes to capture landscapes with the same vividness as if he’d used a paintbrush – but a heck of a lot faster. Check out the video of Hockney at work on an iPad below.
The iPad prints in this exhibition are beautiful, but the real stars of the show are the huge oil paintings, often comprised of several canvases and taking up entire walls of the gallery space. Bright, dramatic and epic in scale, they really have to be seen in person. I’d urge anyone with even a vague interest in modern art to go. But definitely pre-book a ticket – unless you’re also a big fan of queueing.
David Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Picture’ exhibition is open now until 9 April 2012 at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. For exhibition information and to book tickets visit the Royal Academy website.