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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Hockney's Late Style Flowering



David Hockney - who I long dismissed as a graphic designer slash hedonist with a line in pools and big glasses - has grown into his 70s as a grand old man of painting.  His vast new exhibition in London is movingly brilliant. It confirms him as a genius, as, room by room, the sheer scale of his old-age vision blooms into visually splendid life.  Hockney has become an expert on seeing things with an eye unjaded by the camera, a master of perspective and its lack, and someone who, like Hardy, notices things.  His unabashed rural East Yorkshire empiricism is, to me at least, the best thing to happen in the arts in Britain in decades - it is so fresh, naturalistic, simple, and yet profoundly engaged, with the seasons, with time, with trees - one could hardly ask for a more universal theme.  Hockney, a superb draughtsman, is able to render thistles, twigs, leaves, grass, and shoots, as well as fields and hedges, lanes and blossoming or bare bows, with aplomb, flair, and sometimes Van Gogh-like colour.  His iPad sketches, printed out, show that the desire to depict the visual world continue to be evergreen.  Every poet, artist, and lover of beauty should seek out the show at the Royal Academy before it closes.  We may never have a chance to have all these masterworks under one roof again.
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