Old School/New School From Mr Hockney

Some of David Hockney’s best works for iPad and in charcoal are on show in central London.

A word, first, on The Annely Juda Gallery — a stone’s throw from the bustle of Oxford Street. Take the lift to the fourth floor and enter one of the finest gallery spaces in London. Flooded with natural light, Hockney’s iPad-based limited-edition prints sing and glow.

His love of mark-making enables him to create soft blurred areas of one colour and then overlays this with snappy, spidery marks in another colour, creating something that is much more than the sum of its parts. The technology of how this is done is irrelevant — it’s his mastery of his craft that shines through.

The only slight problem is, as one gets closer, the flatness of the end result can look like some weird new form of formica. Then again, in the future, instead of kitchen worktops in faux granite, perhaps we’ll all take a leaf out of Hockney’s book and create something original.

One last look around at the verdant Yorkshire vegetation and it’s down one flight of stairs to the same views, in monochrome, in his superb charcoal drawings. Trust us, in 200 years, when we are all dust, these glorious studies will be as relevant as they are today. Truly timeless. Some light and feathery, some dark — they say, loud and clear, that the medium an artist chooses is only as good as the hand and eye that goes with it.

Tucked around the corner (so as not to fight with the drawings) is one of his hi-def multi-screen slow crawls through a country lane. It brings to mind the almost obsessive detail of the Pre-Raphaelites — every blade of grass in pin sharp focus. But it is the charcoals that have the human element.

Across town, at Tate Modern, Henri Matisse does much the same thing. Two of the old school showing the young bucks how to do it. In spades.

David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring is on at Annely Juda Fine Art, 4th Floor, 23 Dering Street London W1S 1AW until 12 July. Entrance is free. 

By Ian Brice

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