Sitting comfortably

Painting those around you with David Hockney
By Fiona Hope McDowall | Art | 2 July 2016

Starting today at the Royal Academy, the inimitable David Hockney strikes again with an exhibition showcasing 82 portraits and one still life. Captured from within his Hollywood Hill property, this time Hockney’s gaze was trained away from the landscape and towards people from every corner of his life, office staff and fellow artists, to family and friends.


Each of his subjects are sat in the same yellow chair, amidst an improvised blue and green background. By placing them in the same context, Hockney measures their individuality and draws all of the portraits into one whimsical story.

Each painting took three days, starting with a rough sketch in charcoal before becoming the paintings on show today. This method renders an experimental, idiosyncratic finish as rough edges merge with purposefully undefined detail like a smudge of silver resembling a watch, for instance. Colour is a always a prominent trait of Hockney’s work – “I prefer living in colour” – and here his subjects are swimming in it.

The Bradford-born artist’s new work doesn’t halt here, he has a new book coming out soon entitled History of Pictures, somewhat a follow up from his last book, Secret Knowledge.

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life runs at Royal Academy, from 2nd July to 2nd October.

Lord Jacob Rothschild (2014) © David Hockney. Photo credit- Richard Schmidt

Follow Fiona Hope McDowall on Twitter @fionahope_


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