The London Royal Academy’s ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’ (Jan. 21st 2012 – April 9th 2012) has undoubtedly been one of my favourite art exhibitions so far.
The 2012 blockbuster exhibition focused on Hockney’s beautiful depictions of landscapes, concentrating especially on the Yorkshire Wolds, and featured bold and colourful works in oil paint, watercolour, charcoal and ones drawn on his iPad. So I am extremely excited to not only have the opportunity to see some of these works again at Annely Juda Fine Art (‘David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring’, London, until July 12th 2014), but to also view his most recent charcoal drawings of five separate views of Woldgate, which have additionally been included in this upcoming show.
Hockney started these drawings early in 2013, following a minor stroke suffered by the artist the year before. As he explains in his recent Guardian article, he chose to illustrate these landscapes in black, white, and greys, consciously leaving behind the bright and loud colours previously seen in his iPad landscape drawings. Whether this decision had much to do with his stroke, he does not overtly say – however, he explains:
“The stroke only manifested itself in my speech. I found I couldn’t finish sentences, and although it came back after about a month I find now I talk a lot less.”
The replacement of Hockney’s hitherto colourful and varied palette with an increasingly sombre one may, on the one hand, be perceived as reflecting the more quiet lifestyle the artist has had to adopt following his stroke. On the other, the choice of medium and palette also demonstrates Hockney’s interpretation of a Chinese understanding of colour and the variety of hues offered within the broad gamut of grey:
“The Chinese say black and white contains colour, and so it can.”
These subdued and monochromatic drawings recall the qualities of an engraving or etching, and will certainly present an interesting visual contrast to the iPad prints exhibited alongside them. The forthcoming exhibition at London’s Annely Juda Fine Art opens on the 8th of May and will run until the 12th of July 2014.