The master of many media, David Hockney displays his prowess with the iPad for this stunning exhibition of landscape artworks: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 at the Royal Academy, London. Two years ago Hockney decamped to France and settled in an ancient rural property to chart the changing seasons. Referring to this ‘most classical of subjects’, he has made a point of putting the focus on a specific landscape and manages to capture, forensically and with wonder, the annual alteration wrought by nature.
Just as we all spent the early months of 2020 in a state of lockdown, valuing the the impact of nature, listening to birdsong, tending gardens and marvelling at the greening of landscape, Hockney was comfortably ensconced in Normandy, to concentrate on capturing the changes, however minutely, on his iPad. The results have been blown up onto canvas in a collection of 116 printed artworks which take the breath away.
Starting with the stark bare branches of winter trees, sculptural in shape yet full of promise, we progress through the early stages of spring, first shoots and the emergence of blossom and full canopy of leaves. We see the blooming of daffodils, primroses and tangled wild flowers in the lush garden surrounding the house. The colours mix and dance and remind one of those Haystack and lily paintings by Monet who gloried in viewing the same scene altered by light and seasons.
I loved the immersive feel of the show and the chance to see such deft use of digital drawing and painting techniques used on the iPad. Hockney is amazing; he never stays still, always pushing his art – pushing.
#HockneySpring is at the Royal Academy of Art 23rd May – 1 August.