David Hockney

Art, Painting
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David Hockney
A Bigger Splash, 1967 [Une gerbe d’eau encore plus grande] Acrylique sur toile 242,5 x 244 cm © David Hockney Collection Tate, London, purchased 1981

Where? The Pompidou centre, Place Georges Pompidou, Paris 4th

When? June 21-October 23 2017

After celebrating his 80th birthday at the Tate Modern and before continuing on with the party at New York’s MET, the English artist is coming to the Pompidou centre. This will be an important retrospective of his original work, coming nearly 20 years after his first Paris debut at the Pompidou. David Hockney is renowned for his many styles, explosive colours and large swimming pool canvases. 

How do you paint a beautiful Californian pool with its moving summer reflections? As Hockney tell us, there are a number of techniques: using blue acrylic paint and drawing evervescent waves in the water, or white arcs on a turquoise surface to resemble the sparkling sun. 

Hockney's realism throughout his younger years, even before he was even 20 is a demonstration of his versitility. After realism came expressionism, with half empty canvases and the liberal themes of homosexuality, right through to surrealism with Egyptian stylised murals. His use of differing exotic colours can become blinding, and his landscapes range from the Californian coast and English hills to West American patios playing host to bright emerald green and flourescent pinks. Hockney, inspired by the French artist Matisse who devoted his artistic career to colour, evidently does much of the same. 

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This is one of the most beautiful and interesting exhibitions I've ever been to. I'd never been at the Centre Pompidou, which was an experience in and of itself, but I went to see this exhibit in Paris as I had missed it at the Tate in London.  I wouldn't call myself an art person and I'd find it difficult to explain David Hockney's evolution but I still found myself wanting to study every piece of this exhibit and see how it lined up with the blurbs that explained why he'd adopted a particular style or medium or what he was trying to achieve. The space is large and accommodates a lot of people, which means you're not constantly competing to get a glimpse at a piece and you can take your time reading and taking it in. The artist's trajectory is fascinating too and takes you from his native Yorkshire to the US, back to England and a bunch of other spots in between and you can see those reflections in the work. This exhibit is a real delight and way into art for someone who hasn't always felt they are artsy.