Hockney, Printmaker at Dulwich Picture Gallery
Fans of David Hockney (everyone?) will be thrilled to discover a new exhibition, celebrating his 60 years of printmaking at Dulwich Picture Gallery. An artist known for his diverse use of styles, Hockney has created quite a collection of prints during his illustrious career. Despite the focus on this medium, the selection is widely varied, showcasing Hockney’s continuing desire to learn new skills and to surprise, with an emphasis on his playful sense of humour.
The exhibition serves as a broad overview, as much as anything else, of Hockney’s career. It begins with his first three, tentative lithographs, created at art school in his hometown of Bradford, followed by thirty etchings, made at the Royal College of Art in a flourish on learning that printing materials were free to students. Such resourcefulness is seen throughout, notably at the tail end 2011 piece Rain on the Studio Window, which was drawn on a computer and inkjet printed.
In between are prints grouped either by series or by the relationship between artist and printer or artist and model. Significant are those created in partnership with Aldo Crommelynck, printer to Picasso, modernist artist and hero of Hockney’s. Artist and Model is a witty homage to the Spanish painter, mimicking his frequently used technique of contrasting numerous styles within one picture. Here, Hockney depicts, in soft-ground, hard-ground and sugar-lift aquatint, the scene of himself, posing as a naked model for the senior, more esteemed Picasso.
Elsewhere, Hockney’s love of literature is highlighted charmingly in Illustrations for Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Hockney uses simple, static images to subtly imply the magic and action of the tales so that a lone chair in front of a window manages to suggest movement, or that two black and white corpses seem ablaze. Further literary reference is made in Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from CP Cavafy. Hockney manages to gently yet defiantly portray the scenes of homosexual life which poet Cavafy depicted in his early 20th century work. This series is the quiet highlight of the exhibition, showcasing Hockney’s adept ability to tenderly and playfully touch upon an important, culturally neglected subject.
In short, the exhibition is a delightful insight in to the quirky mind of an artist who has been described, by Ed Rushcha as “quite comfortable, cigarette in hand, being out of sync with the rest of the world to get the art that he wants”.
Hockney, Printmaker is at Dulwich Picture Gallery from 5th February until 11th May 2014. For further information visit the gallery’s website here.