Saturday, April 02, 2005

David Hockney - Hand, Eye, Heart, Space

David Hockney's current exhibition of landscape watercolors at the LA Louver Gallery in Venice, California brings him back to the fields of East Yorkshire where as a teen on summer breaks from school he worked the fields he now paints. There is a youthful expansiveness in these new watercolors. Hockney's deep study of Picasso and Braque's cubistic space allows him to blow open these paintings in a way seldom seen in watercolor. The type of bent and overlapping space found in Hockney's earlier photo collages such as "Pearblossom Highway"(up the road at the Getty) is very much in evidence here.

Moving from the foreground with its patterned arrangements of vegetation, to the lozenged fields in the middleground, to the horizon line in "East Yorkshire Spring" (above) which seems to bend with the curvature of the earth, leads us not to a single point, but to the vast interconnected nature of time and existence. We have seen these wide-open vistas so often in American films, especially Westerns, that it is easy to brand the vista as an exclusively American idea. In these works, Hockney seems to be discovering that these limitless horizons were already found in the landscape of his youth. And these limitless spaces are also found in the ideas of physicists such as Stephen Hawking. Hockney, throughout his career, has been as interested in how we see as in what we see. Light, color and questions on space and time have come to the forefront in both physics (light has become the cornerstone of reality and space and time have become observer-dependent) and the art of David Hockney.

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