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Installation view of David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing], 25th Street, NY. April 5 – May 12, 2018. Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery © 2018 David Hockney


Installation view of David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing], 25th Street, NY. April 5 – May 12, 2018. Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery © 2018 David Hockney


David Hockney Walk Around Hotel Acatlan 2017. Acrylic on canvas 36 x 72” (hexagonal). ©David Hockney Photo: Richard Schmidt


David Hockney A Picture of a Lion 2017. Acrylic on canvas 48 x 96” (hexagonal). ©David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt


Installation view of David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing], 25th Street, NY. April 5 – May 12, 2018. Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery © 2018 David Hockney


Installation view of David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing], 25th Street, NY. April 5 – May 12, 2018. Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery © 2018 David Hockney


David Hockney, Grand Canyon II 2017. Acrylic on canvas 48 x 96” (hexagonal). ©David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt


David Hockney, Walk Around the Alcazar 2017. Acrylic on canvas 36 x 72” (hexagonal). ©David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt


Installation view of David Hockney: Something New in Painting (and Photography) [and even Printing], 25th Street, NY. April 5 – May 12, 2018. Photo: courtesy Pace Gallery © 2018 David Hockney


David Hockney, Still Life 2017. Acrylic on canvas 48 x 96” (hexagonal). ©David Hockney. Photo: Richard Schmidt

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ARQUIVO:


DAVID HOCKNEY

SOMETHING NEW IN PAINTING (AND PHOTOGRAPHY) [AND EVEN PRINTING]




PACE GALLERY - 25TH STREET NY
510 West 25th Street
New York NY 10001

05 ABR - 12 MAI 2018

THE IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE OF MULTIPLE VANISHING POINTS

 

It can be tricky to make an analysis of one work of art, when the artist in question has a lifetime of over 60 years of creation, fulfilled with notable technical achievements and innovative approaches to artistic creation. However, that may be possible when the artist is able to encapsulate most of his formulas in one single equation, delivering in the aftermath a complex masterpiece.

David Hockney was born in 1937 in Bradford, England and lives and works in LA, California. Just in 2017, he had three solo shows in Paris, two of them at Centre Georges Pompidou, and four in London, where he exhibited twice at the Tate with his celebrated traveling retrospective. This year and only in New York, David Hockney had a solo booth show at Frieze Art Fair presented by Pace Gallery with a simultaneous solo presentation at the gallery site on 25th Street in Manhattan.

I will focus my analysis precisely on one of the works that was present this year at the gallery show in New York titled “In the Studio, December 2017”, 2017, a photographic drawing printed on seven sheets of paper, mounted on seven sheets of Dibond, with an overall installation dimension of 9’1-1/2’’ x 24’11-1/4’’. I will approach this work by highlighting a few major topics and categories that are eventually transversal in all the body of work of David Hockney.

 

David Hockney, In the Studio, December 2017, 2017. [click in the image to enlarge]

 


Narrative

When we firstly look at this work, we can easily recognize, even without identifying as familiar the space where the action unfolds, or knowing what the artist physically looks like, that it may be the artist studio and that the person in the center of the space of this representation should be David Hockney himself. All those assumptions will be confirmed when reading the title of the work, “In the Studio, December 2017.” The narrative starts to get complicated when the viewer begins to understand that his scale is loyal to his real human dimensions if he was actually placed in perspective on that precise place at that viewing-point. Simultaneously, and after being confronted with the presence of Mr. Hockney in both rooms, the physical gallery space and also in his studio, we realize that all the paintings present in the gallery exhibition are also reproduced with the same loyalty in this work, through that same allusive perspective. The technique and medium used, photographic drawing printed, could answer some of the enigmas about the complexity of the final artistic product. However, the fact that the narrative crosses transversely with the techniques of execution raises questions to the comprehension of the outcome of the experience and tends to disorder one more time what we could have thought to have methodically achieved during our initial contemplation.

Mr. Hockney’s paintings and drawings have shown throughout his artistic career that perspective as we know it, with one single vanishing point, or several aligned in the sea-line, are not his concept of a truthful representation of the world. He has been defying this logic either by reversing the perspective or challenging what we may recognize as a logical transposition of reality. There is nothing to question in this way of representation and it is one of his recognizable aesthetics which he often explores with acrylic paint. Nevertheless, the ability to deform physical space, from a malleable artistic medium such as acrylic to a photographic form of representation that our senses believe to be loyal reproduction method, confuses the perception of a biased eyeball reading.

Throughout his career, Mr. Hockney has been successfully exploring landscape narratives, some simply architectural, others more nature related, several encompassing both themes, and more recently human portraiture. In this piece, Mr. Hockney approaches most of these topics, keeping them actively in dialogue and enriching what we understand has a characteristic narrative through his whole body of work. Simultaneously, and by introducing new techniques to this medium, the work provokes disguised sensations to the viewer, adding new levels of interpretation to the initially conscripted narrative.


Technology Serving the Artist

It is mandatory to uncover what is behind this crafted collage of ideas. Mr. Hockney has had a technology assistant who keeps him up to date with the latest developments since he started exploring digital drawing on his iPhone and iPad. By the end of 2017, they found their way to a digital outfit in St. Petersburg, Russia, and discovered a photogrammetric software which seemed to effectively answer his current needs. Through this method he was able to combine hundreds of individual snaps shots and work them three-dimensionally afterwards. Before the paintings were shipped to New York for the solo show at Pace Gallery, the artist paused the shipping and crating process to register the images he needed to develop this work. He took around 3.000 photographs which were transferred to the 3D software enabling the possibility of touring the space and objects in various angles. Everything after was susceptible to being moved around and organized inside that notional space. Hockney worked with all the objects inside the room and played with them like a dollhouse until he found the perfect composition that responded to what he envisioned. After all the objects, and himself in their midst, he went in with a notional paintbrush, smooshing in shadows and sliding in highlights. Ultimately, using a massive cutting-edge printer, he turned this photomural into seven floor-to-ceiling panels.


Perspective Approving the Narrative

At “In the Studio, December 2017”, Mr. Hockney keeps on exploring the concept of “Reverse Perspective.” This idea challenges the story of Western Painting understood as geometrical perspective starting in the Renaissance. The word “Perspective,” firstly means, an expansive view that is allegedly visual, and secondly, the term is used in painting for the method portraying such view, both applied to the sense of space. As in most of his pictures, this work shows an antagonist representation of the Western perspective. Here, the vanishing point keeps on shifting, it is not steady or permanent, neither singular. What may have been considered as the solution to draw solid objects on a two-dimensional surface such as canvases (to give the correct impression of its volume, height, depth, width or establish the relation and position in-between other objects), never worked for David Hockney as a solution for representation of tri-dimensional spaces. By exploring this concept of “Reverse Perspective” he challenges what he believes have been overrated for the past few hundred years, advocating for the absence of perspective used by the Russians in the 14th and 15th centuries as well as the Chinese, Japanese and further back the Egyptian Art. Applying these technical principles, he is most of the times removing the incidence of the shadows resulting from a steady view point. By freeing himself of what he once called the “tyranny of the vanishing-point perspective,” Mr. Hockey announces a renewed understanding of the tri-dimensional space which in the case of this work also establishes an approach to the often-immersive illusion of virtual reality. While standing in front of this massive work, the audience feels exactly that illusion of being surrounded by the three-dimensionality of the work. The viewer is pulled inside this bi-dimensional misapprehension that enables the illusion of looking up and around. As in many VR experiences, we are here in presence of what is actually a sewing of hundreds of photographic captions, that ultimately enhance the sensation of being close to Real, delivering the immersive emulation of “near-reality.”


One Work an Entire Show

While enforcing all the strategies mentioned above in only one work, Mr. Hockney creates a master experience enhanced by the conjunctures inside the gallery space. The viewer can experience a Renaissance-Like highly realistic perspective with a continuous visual representation of a narrative based in the real world. By providing the key elements to trigger our memory and knowledge, the artist overcomes the inherent limitations of a random visual narrative by presenting a story that the viewer may identify. This full process of recognizing familiarity of the scene is highly facilitated when the artist portrays all the paintings present at the rest of the show at Pace Gallery inside the theatrical scene of this work. It is also through this allegory of mirroring objects from the inside of the studio narrative into the gallery space that the interactive experience is unveiled, allowing a two-way flow of information. This element of interaction of utmost importance makes the viewer feel the freedom to get involved with the virtual environment created by the artist. Meanwhile, the virtual reality experience is achieved without wearing the technological gadgets when the audience abandons the frontal viewing area of this work and adventures the rest of the gallery space and is confronted with the real canvases paintings. Furthermore, in the presence of those canvases and as a result of the cut off edges, the viewer is pulled back to David Hockey’s astute interpretation of perspective, trying one more time to find their own place inside these rooms where all the narratives are happening and which they are also part of.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s words: “There are three aspects to perspective. The first has to do with how the size of objects seems to diminish according to distance: the second, the manner in which colors change the farther away they are from the eye; the third defines how objects ought to be finished less carefully the farther away they are.” We must agree with the accuracy of Leonardo’s statement, nonetheless the digital age emerged in Human history, and as Mr. Hockney has often mentioned “Perspective is a law of optics,” and he also wisely concludes that: “The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you're an artist.”

 

Sérgio Parreira
Instagram: @artloverdiscourse

 


 



SÉRGIO PARREIRA

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