Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A bigger message

I've just finished reading a book my mother bought for me called 'A Bigger Message- Conversations with David Hockney' by Martin Gayford. I don't usually find these books type of books very stimulating; in part because I don't want to fill my head with 'work' related thoughts on my 'off hours' and also, if I'm honest I prefer a good bit of fiction with a ripping yarn... Shallow I know but there it is.

So I thought I'd write a little about the book here, not a review as such, just a few of my rambling thoughts about 'the read' and it's content.

This book however enticed me and I found I got a huge amount out of it. I'd wanted to read it largely becasue Hockneys recent landscapes have really interested me from a stylistic approach, and for their ambitious size.  The book I found to be very approachable, well written and as the title suggests it's presented in a conversational mode. And David Hockney does always seems to, (in mind,) have interesting things to say. For even if I don't always entirely see eye to eye with every view, I always find him intelligent and interesting to listen too, or in this case read.

The books is based over a number of years and he talks about many aspects of his life and career, but the focus of the book is his recent preoccupation with the landscape. The book also tied into a major exhibition of his work at the RA. For those who don't know, in recent years Hockney has returned to live in the town of his birth in the North of England. Despite being in his 80's his work has taken a prolific burst of life and energy as he becomes consumed with nature and the land around his home. He has painted a number of massive multi-canvas (where each canvas is hung next to the other) paintings of the landscape.  Much of his early work I was always only vaguely interested in, but these new landscapes really excite me.

A large portion of the book talks around the aspect of 'artists' being acutely aware of their surroundings, and become trained or learning to 'really' look at things. Obviously this is a sentiment all artists can agree with and relate too. Additionally he talked about the Chinese philosophy of believing it takes three things to create good art. The hand, the eye and the heart; two wont do. You can for example have a good eye and heart, but without the hand the painting will be no good. This too I felt very interesting and true philosophy to my mind.

He also spends a while discussing his love of the ipad and various digital methods of image creation. With a past in CG this is something I can relate too, however I feel Hockney is only scratching the surface here and it's not his best work - quick sketches roughly rendered on iphones or ipads. Many an artist is able to make digital mediums sing, personally I think Hockney is better with paint.

Finally the book discussed Hockneys love and interest in space, the volume of our surroundings. He talked at length about this issue and how it was spaces and volume of a landscape that captured him, the three dimensional aspect, the ability to move within a landscape and view it from differing viewpoints, always sensing it's depth. He argued that it was this aspect that interested him most in landscape painting and I realized on reading this that that's also what preoccupies me in much of my work. The perfect example is my Still life paintings. With their dissecting lines breaking and analyzing the space within the arrangement, presenting different views within the single painting. Hockney is critical of the camera for this, for it can only present one view point from one given moment.

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