The one where I see some Hockney and don’t pay £14

Art

David Hockney: Moving Focus @ Alan Cristea Gallery, W1

A lot of people have praised the British art scene’s prodigal son for returning from Los Angeles with his tail between his legs and painting England’s green and pleasant land for a show at the Royal Academy.  The work consists of landscapes of Hockney’s Yorkshire home with a twist: psychedelic colours. Those crazy artists. Just what will they think of next?

Photo: Scuola di Atene on Flickr

 Don’t get me wrong, the paintings are gorgeous. But they are also undeniably populist. Some of the work was even done on the artist’s iPad. (Finally, someone has found a use for them other than  showing girls you’re adorably nerdy, loaded and prepared to waste your money on frivolous shit or hilariously pretending to drink a pint of digital beer). Hell, even the Daily Mail have used the work as an excuse to spread some much-needed hatred for fly-tipping yobbos.

So being the raving leftie moron that I am, I thought it was a little hypocritical that there was a £14 charge. As the astute amongst you may have guessed, I am not the kind of gal who goes to an exhibition and comes home with a £60 Hockney-themed necklace. One day I hope to be that person, really I do. But on this occasion, I settled for an exhibition around the corner where I had heard the art flowed free and loose. The disapproval of the Bond Street businessmen considering treating themselves to a piece of art on their lunch break as the rest of us would a Gregg’s iced bun was a small price to pay.

With only 9 pieces it was small, but people who are too skint to pay for a proper exhibition can’t be choosers. My friend James was not impressed. “A four year old could have done that”. Well done on your refreshing and witty observation, James. However, I pointed out that these were in fact lithographs, and that sheet metal printing was probably a bit advanced for the under-fives.

In contrast to the RA work (or, you know, what I’ve seen of it on the internet), these prints were made in the 1980’s and are an altogether different kind of scenery. Hotel Acatlan, Second Day (1984-5) and Hotel Acatlan, Two Weeks Later (1985) were my favourite; bold landscapes showing a Mexican hotel courtyard  in reverse perspective. As with all Hockney the colours hit first; in this case the rich yellows and blues give the work an immediately obvious sense of place. Most of the paintings in the exhibition are from this visit, with another three dedicated to the hotel well (sounds pretty ridiculous, but again the colours bring it alive.)

'Hotel Acatlan, Second Day' Photo: Alan Cristea Gallery

To make an obscenely crude analogy, I also thought that the paintings were very obviously 80’s. I think this had something to do with the pastel colours on top of the white; it reminded me of those naff souvenir t-shirts that are now worn by parents doing home improvements and hipsters. It certainly appealed to my sense of kitsch anyway, but perhaps the fact that I’d had the Pet Shop Boys on loop for three days played some part in this.

Photo: Etsy

I definitely recommend it for a ten minute cultural respite if you find yourself in the thralls of Oxford Street over the next week. It’s Hockney, it’s free, and you get to walk up Bond Street and get sneered at by people in Fur Coats. What’s not to love?

Moving Focus is showing at the Alan Cristea Gallery, 34 Cork Street W1, from now until Saturday February 18

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One thought on “The one where I see some Hockney and don’t pay £14

  1. Humorous, reflective and involving stuff – a great opening post, Emma. You’ll be up there with Clemency Burton-Hill and Alastair Sooke before you know it.

    My issue with iPad art is that everyone is excited over the fact that stuff can be created with little regard for whether current creations are actually any good. That goes for music and film too.

    I’m all for experimentation, but creators shouldn’t use digital unless it’s truly to bring a new dimension or interaction to their work – or if, like me and some graphic designers, they’re just not very good at drawing.

    That said, the hotel painting does look nice. Not bad for a free gallery off Bond St.

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