February 23, 2019

A Bigger Picture – David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts


It’s my first time visiting the RA and there is a definite sense of majesty and history when you enter its courtyard. There’s a hive of activity as students, families, tourists and workers busily stride up and down its cobbled entrance-ways and steps. I catch a glimpse of conversation here and there as passing couples of different nationalities murmur in sotto voce. I take my turn to queue for the thirty minutes it takes to enter the RA box office to see David Hockney’s latest addition to contemporary culture.

‘A Bigger Picture’ presents a fifty-year span of Hockney’s work and his fascination with landscape. He uses a technique he developed at the start of his career called ‘joiners,’ to capture the Yorkshire countryside that he is so fond of. He has developed this technique further by using new technology, such as ipads and film cameras.  The exhibition is the first of its kind as the gallery has never given over the space to any living artist on this scale and indeed Hockney reciprocates by creating work specifically for the space.

Room upon room is taken over by Hockney’s exploration into movement. I am transfixed and lost; not only in the intense throng of worshippers as the gallery spaces are packed, but also in each painting, depicting almost hyper-real visions of the countryside. I reach the painting Woldgate Woods. Its as if you can smell the green of the summer grass and the leaves just perceivably blowing and rustling in the cool summer breeze. The blues and pinks of ‘Winter Timber’ are so vibrant. The logs feel as if they are snaking out at you and a path reminiscent of Dorothy’s yellow brick road, but pink, leads to infinity. Tree branches swirl like giant lollipops. I reach the painting ‘The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate East Yorkshire in 2011.’ OMG! Such detail, so immersive!

‘Yosemite 2011’ is the weakest of the collection for me. Hockney takes a seminal piece of work in Claude Lorain’s – The Sermon on the Mount and uses his ‘joiner’ technique to create a thirty piece canvas entitled; A Bigger Message. For me the piece lacks Lorain’s attention to detail, saturation and reverence. No doubt this is due to Hockney’s choice of technique which add’s to draw its audience into the space so that you are at one with the focus of his attention. Still this exhibition is a must see, not to be missed!

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