David Hockney Exhibition Tate Britain 2017

On Sunday 21st May 2017 I travelled to London to attend a exhibition on David Hockney in the Tate Britain. This was a fascinating insight into the work of a very multitalented man and the progression of his work throughout the years.

David Hockney Exhibition Tate Britain 2017

Even before we entered the exhibition we were treated to a display of the variety of Hockney's work. As we queued for entrance the walls around us were filled with vibrant videos, edited and directed masterfully by Hockney himself. One in particular stands out in my memory, a collection of circus performers completing various types of movements (juggling, gymnastics, etc) but with ever changing positions, movements, clothes and props. This created a complex masterpiece with every tiny detail helping to create flow in the video.

Then we entered the first room. The art on the walls around us depicted the early stages of Hockney career and the first stages of his experimentation with many styles. These paintings were full of interesting contrasts like the abstract style, that was attained from studying the techniques of Hockney's inspirations,Picasso. Hockney has frequency said that this artist was his main influence in an early moment in his career and I could clearly see the impact on his artwork in this section. What I found fascinating about these pieces was the use of both childlike simplicity (with the many primary colours used linked to this) combined with an air of an unfinished piece and also areas of great detail. Early on the his career you can already see the familiar characteristics that are found in a quintessential Hockney painting: the use of a variety of colour (like the dark oranges and bright blues that he favoured later on) and the detailed and lifelike images depicted of people that show David Hockney's talent in portraiture.

The next selection of paintings was a clear depiction of the time when Hockney delved deeper into becoming an abstract artist, moving away from lifelike stills and drawings. Full of words, irregular shapes and distorted human bodies, this collection was very different to the style I had seen before - demonstrating his versatility and skills in many talents in many different areas. The colours were also a welcome contrast from other pieces with darker shades like brown and black combined with pale pinks, light blues and cream blended and intermixed with each other (very different to later works of art). I love these paintings because Hockney manages to create emotion even through letters, unique shapes and limited colours.

The next group of paintings showed the beginnings of the Hockney we know and love. It had the swimming pool paintings, a collection of iconic paintings combining the brilliant blue colour that became Hockney's trademark shade, mesmerising patterns depicting the movement of water and the detailed, nude portraits of men with amazing tone and depth. In this group Hockney displayed his unique ability to bring many bold, vivid colours together and create a calm and tranquil scene. It also translated the talent for creating portraits that Hockney possessed.

My favourite series that the artist produced is the collection of portraits with couples and their homes painted in great detail. I think these are unique and very stimulating because bring many questions to life, about the people and their lives. In my opinion, these are Hockney's greatest works of art, because they show the care and pure talent he puts into his work. I came to this conclusion because I believe that they show thoughtfulness in the colours and composition put in to reflect the subjects' characters, relationship with each other, the atmosphere and the context. These are that convey the most emotion and therefore they are my favourite paintings in the exhibition.

The next room gave me the most inspiration for my leadership project and therefore I decided to recreate for my project in the leadership areas of the arts award (see page …). After experimenting with different styles Hockney began to try out different medias. First of all, he began creating collages using the medium of photography. I enjoy the way Hockney plays with composition, people's facial expressions and particularly colours. The artist arranged different shades of blues, greens, yellows for sky, grass and the desert by changing the lighting and angles. The different photos either had plain colours combined with photos focused on different aspects of the situation to create a broad and comprehensive view of the topic. It is very interesting how Hockney moved his creative focus onto a different medium like photography and is therefore moving forward and looking to the future at technology rather than traditional methods.

The famous landscapes filled with beautiful colours, lines and shapes that complement each other and coexist together very well. It was this section of that gave me inspiration to pursue experimenting with different colours and mediums to create different atmospheres in my taking part project. I like how David Hockney combines realistic natural shapes in his landscapes with unnatural, abstract shapes and patterns to create an interesting painting that draws you in. He takes garish, artificial colours and uses them in a natural landscapes very effectively by complementing them with calmer shade. Hockney uses his talent with colours to create unique landscapes that do not conform to the traditional palettes and styles that had been used beforehand, therefore revolutionising the way we approach our art today.

I really enjoyed going to this exhibition and it gave me a huge range of inspiration for the rest of my project and I learnt a lot about Hockney's different techniques and variety of skills.

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Kitty Alexander

Kitty Alexander

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  • Luke Taylor

    On 3 November 2017, 10:09 Luke Taylor Contributor commented:

    Great review of a talented artist!

  • Tom Inniss

    On 6 November 2017, 11:18 Tom Inniss Voice Team commented:

    Excellent and in-depth review. Thanks for posting!

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