Lita Barrie reviews David Hockney: Painting and Photography at LA Louver (on view through September 19, 2015) and talks to David Hockney and Peter Goulds about the painting, photography, and digital media.
Barrie writes: "Hockney's new work is a playful critique of the limitations of photography, that captures fascinating things a fixed perspective can never capture--multiple vanishing points, altered perspectives, different moments of time, emotional resonances--which keep the eye alive. Seen together, the paintings and digital "photographic drawings" in this exhibition have a coherence that goes beyond individual pieces to retain our interest."
In the subsequent conversation, Hockney comments: "There are thousands of perspectives--not just one--everywhere you look. Perspective doesn't exist in nature. It is just a convention, but it is a convention now that is fixed with photography. When it was fixed with painting, painters could bend it... and did. Painters always bent perspective. But chemical photography cannot, and that has dominated the 20th century. But now we are in the digital age, and digits have much more information."
Sultan comments: "David Hockney is something of a magician: he can take mundane, even clichéd subject matter––a road disappearing in the distance, surrounded by trees... and turn it into a vivid and playful image. When I first walked into the rooms of prints in Hockney's show at Pace Gallery titled 'The Arrival of Spring' I nearly groaned––flowers, trees, that darn road––but the longer I looked, the more I was seduced by the Hockney's project to picture the arrival of spring in Yorkshire through iPad drawings. ... [in] all the prints in the show, I see Hockney's love of his place in the world; I feel the interest and excitement he brought to his drawing, and the skill; I sense the thrill of the new medium. His vision is an ordinary one, but through it the everyday is transformed."
Kurchnova writes: "Hockney is a painters’ painter – he openly insists on the superiority of painting over photography in the truthfulness with which it renders the world. Photography, for him, is limited by a particular point of view and can always be manipulated, especially in the digital age. Interestingly, with all his love of nature, drawing and painting, and his dislike of photography as art, Hockney is an avowed technophile, who, in order to approach nature, uses a variety of mechanical devices of different degrees of complexity... Initially, a series of 13 large colour prints at the exhibition were also drawings done on an iPad... The series is remarkable for its bold, iridescent colouration and an almost eerie luminosity, which seems to emanate from the surface of the prints. Apart from these distinctive features, conditioned by the technical device itself, the prints also convey the artist’s thorough knowledge of modern masters. The squiggly, nervous lines demarcating the branches, grass and road charge the surface with energy and dynamism worthy of the best canvases of Van Gogh and Munch."
Natalie Maria Roncone considers David Hockney's ongoing dialogue with the art of the past, examining similarities between Hockney's mural scale painting Bigger Trees near Warter (2007) and Tintoretto's Crucifixion (1565) at the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.
Roncone writes: "Hockney is, by temperament, chronically hungry and omnivorous. One sees him devouring his way through visual history past and present, gorging on images from Ingres, Rubens, Claude and Picasso. While some artists and thinkers today are promoting an art of utopian purity, one that requires shutting a door between art and life, Hockney’s appetite takes him in the opposite, though really no less utopian direction. He strives to open everything up, to bring — to squeeze —the whole shebang into art: high – low; old – new; savagery – grace. In this way his work exemplifies a laborious, pieced-together, piled-up, revision-intensive methodology. Indeed, far from being an impulsive, gut-spilling artist, he is a deliberator with every painting a controlled experiment."
Pardee writes that the show "is expansive and multifaceted, driven by Hockney’s unflagging curiosity about picture-making and his relentless rhythm of production. Like Claude Monet, Hockney works in series; his paintings address time and optical truth, and they expand into large-scale decorations... Like Monet, he ignores the constraints of monocular perspective, and, just as Monet grew more ambitious over the turn of the past century, so Hockney aims to redefine painting for the digital age... Coming of age in the heyday of Warhol and popular visual culture, Hockney inhabits a media-saturated world and assumes a populist stance: if there’s no truthful image, just multiple views, our world image must evolve through broad cultural participation.
Hager writes: "Color is Hockney’s seductive Siren, and she is both an asset and a liability. Taken as individual compositions, the bright saturated colors delight. Hockney Woods is a cheery place full of daringly-deployed 'tube' greens mixed to a wide range of tints and shades. Hockney uses the complementary antidote, magenta, in just the right amount to soothe those highly-agitated greens. This palette does not replicate the lush Yorkshire countryside so much as symbolize it. You won’t probably recognize this as England. With a color subconscious permanently colonized by Los Angeles, the road to Woldgate Woods runs through Santa Monica... Beyond color, what is striking about the work on display is Hockney’s attention to mark making and decorative pattern. The spirit of Rousseau is unavoidably invoked in some of the more densely foliated landscapes."
Coombs writes that performance art "can be an exhausting medium with little room for the sort of contemplation possible in front of a painting. The form itself is ephemeral and disappears as soon as the performance is over and often the only evidence that such a thing ever happened is through a photograph or a film... This is ironic given that performance art is a continuation, and some might say completion, of the modernist drive towards actuality. It articulates its form through a real body, a real presence, and gives its subjects, which are often imbued with political urgency, a condition of actual being. The disadvantage with it is that, as with events in real life, it is over so very quickly, and often we encounter it most readily through the mediated form of photography or film, a translation of actuality into a fiction. Painting, in comparison, seems embarrassingly immediate."
White notes that "The question of how painting, and representation in general, can make objects, ideas or impressions come into being can hardly be considered specific to these artists' time. Yet by the 1970s... these questions had become more pertinent for figurative painting, which sought a new identity in an artistic environment dominated by conceptualism. This exhibition reveals how the medium of painting prevailed despite the challenges of the avant-garde: how these artists were engaged in a dialogue about representation that did not ignore, yet operated separately from, the aesthetic norm."
While David Hockney is still making paintings the old fashioned way Culture Monster's Barbara Isenberg reports that "The art-making medium he’s using most these days is the iPad, brother to the iPhone, which he took up earlier. Whether he’s lying in bed or driving through snow-covered woods, his ever-ready iPhone and iPad are always by his side."
NPR's Susan Stamberg reports on an exhibition of David Hockney's digital paintings. The paintings made on an iPhone and an iPad using the "Brushes" app are on view at the Pierre Berge-Yves St. Laurent Foundation in Paris.
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.