David Hockney, 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life, 6th August 2016
Royal Academy, London
The exhibition was laid out in a very intimate part of the Royal Academy building and so all the portraits felt as though they were able to converse with one another. The colour ways were all complementary and therefore the works had a natural flow. There were two distinct anomalies, one still life that was presented in a portrait format and one double portrait that was presented in a landscape format. This added to the interest of the exhibition rather than being a distinct distraction.
Hockney had given himself rules in the process of making each portrait that he would only spend a maximum of three days per work.
The unification of Hockney's work was key to this exhibition both in the bold use of colour and the manner in which each of the sitters posed.
David Hockney’s show of paintings worked very well as a completed series. It would be hard to say whether they would work better as a singular piece or less pieces but within the context of the RA space they definitely looked as though they belonged as a whole. The series also highlighted that working in series is how I wish to continue with my practice as each piece converses with the next and unveils an underlying narrative.
Hockney used the same formula in terms of the subject sitting on a chair in what appeared to be the same location although there were variations in the colour ways of the background. The size of the canvas was constant as were the proportions of the figure, all seated and full figured.
I found this useful because it gave such a defined approach. There was consistency but slight alterations with the angles that Hockney chose to paint from.
Having seen a number of David Hockney exhibitions over my lifetime I was particularly excited to see this exhibition as this was a revisit for Hockney marking a pivotal point in his life and his long career. The show focused on portraits whose subjects included office staff, fellow artists, curators and fellow gallerists. This overview offered the viewer an intimate snapshot of the LA art world.
This was a chance to engage with a series of portraits and view the result in a gallery space.
The gaze and the familiarity and relationship of the artist to the sitter were apparent.