‘David Hockney: Current’ has landed at the NGV, bringing to Melbourne a world exclusive exhibition celebrating one of the world’s greatest living artists. I had the pleasure of attending a preview of the exhibition and an interview with the artist himself, whose presence is as bright and delightful as his art. Impeccably dressed in a three piece suit, he has airs that seem today like a relic of a recent past, yet his artwork is anything but dated.
Hockney is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, and he has strode boldly into the 21st century with the open adoption of new mediums. He approaches his work with a relentless creativity and a determination to push the boundaries of image-making. Hockney first used a computer in 1986, and admits he resisted mobile phones for a bit, before realising the potential of a new medium. Where other artists shy away, Hockney dives in and embraces new technology, creating hundreds of paintings on smartphones and tablets, in excess of 600 of which are displayed in the exhibition. Hockney takes the sharpness of digital brushes and pain and turns them into artworks of pure delight, some of which adorn the walls of the gallery as large scale prints.
His proclamation of “I’ll keep on working until I fall over!” is a testament to the work ethic of a prolific artist who experiments with a plethora of mediums, from oil painting to video to drawing on the humble iPhone. ‘Current’ shows off the breadth of his recent work, with highlights including Hockney’s largest painting Bigger Trees Near Water, comprised of fifty oil on canvas panels, being displayed in Australia for the first time.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is a 35 meter long gallery filled with 80 recently painted portraits of the artist’s’ family and friends, including a portrait of Barry Humphries. The exhibition comes to a mesmerising conclusion with the video work The Four Seasons, Woldgate Woods, depicting the changing landscape of Yorkshire on four sets of 9 high definition screens, in a spectacular celebration of the beauty of the natural environment.
‘David Hockney: Current’ is an exhibition filled with light and joy, which is perfect timing in light of recent events. If you want to lose a few hours lost in Hockney’s unique vision, head down to the NGV this summer, from the 11th of November to the 13th of March 2017.