Exhibition On Screen Presents: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts: A Bigger Picture 2012 & 82 Portraits and One Still Life 2016.
This week marks the release of Exhibition On Screen film, ‘David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts: A Bigger Picture 2012 & 82 Portraits and One Still Life 2016’. David Hockney is one of Britain’s most popular artists, his work has been exhibited across the globe from London to New York, Paris and beyond attracting millions of visitors worldwide. The latest documentary film from Exhibition On Screen, who also brought us ‘Canaletto and The Art of Venice’ and ‘Cezanne Portraits of a Life’, gives us up-close access to the 21st-century master and his two recent exhibitions held at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, ‘A Bigger Picture’ in 2012 and ‘82 Portraits and One Still Life’ in 2016. These exhibitions see Hockney producing works in the two great genres of art: Landscape and Portrait.
Unlike the natural observation we carry out as viewers at an exhibition, this film allows a new perspective on viewing art. In this case, allowing the film to focus in on specific works, alongside narration offered by the exhibitions' curatorial team, and the inspiration behind both projects discussed by Hockney himself. This way of seeing an exhibition does hand the artists concepts and reasoning’s on a plate and removes subjectivity, but allows a much fuller appreciation of David Hockney’s later work as viewers are invited to know the artists process more personally and are given an in-depth insight into his world from producing a singular work to the production of an exhibition on a grand scale.
For ‘A Bigger Picture’ Hockney returned to his native Yorkshire. This return to home was cathartic for Hockney and saw him capture the changing landscape through the seasons, using new techniques such as drawing on an iPad. Four years later for ‘82 Portraits and One Still Life’, Hockney also embraced a new process of working, inviting sitters to his studio with a three-day window of time for each portrait. The 82 finished paintings were then exhibited as one complete work.
A particularly fascinating part of the film is the role of Edith Devaney, Senior Contemporary Curator at the Royal Academy of Arts, who twice sat for Hockney to paint which features in ‘82 Portraits and One Still Life’. To have the perspective of the curator is rare and in this case necessary as there is very much a relationship to be seen and understood between The Royal Academy and Hockney. Devaney personifies the institution in the documentary and the snippets of conversation between curator and artist is eye opening on how a leading establishment such as the Royal Academy interacts with its artists. It is enjoyable to see their conversations play-out and the undeniably amicable relationship they have.
I am no connoisseur of art and one does not have to be to enjoy this documentary and appreciate Hockney’s two monumental and unique Royal Academy exhibitions and the importance of this artist in British art history.
You can see this film in Brighton at Dukes at Komedia on Monday 27 November and Wednesday 29 November.