(National Gallery of Victoria, December 2016)
An extensive selection of the later Hockney excluded his Californian scenes* of young men in swimming pools (à la Gods and Monsters) but featured a curiously enticing mix of media, from multi-layered tracing paper (by which he gets an almost phosphorescent effect in flowers or clouds hovering over Yosemite):
…to mobile phone etchings and ‘joiners’ in bite-sized pastels:
To cite the well-known phrase about Trollope, Hockney is the “chronicler of small beer,” and a post-pop artist to boot, but he does it with a fair dash of style:
And his local landscapes of Yorkshire, where he moved no doubt to experience the seasonal changes that tend to bypass Los Angeles, are nice:
He is on less strong ground sometimes, with the human form. At NGV there was an impressive long room of dozens of similar portraits, with a pastel background and the subjects squeezed uneasily into un-comfy chairs. The effect of these works, en masse, was heightened in one sense, and diminished in another.
For example, see the image of art historian and connoisseur Martin Gayford, and this nattily-dressed gentleman (below):
Then compare it with, say, this early portrait of an Earl of Leicester, which follows the convention of the time and yet talks to us far more eloquently:
…or this Yosemite forest scene…
…with a common or garden Caspar David Friedrich:
But comparisons are odious, and we came away a little better disposed towards Mr. Hockney. There are some meat-and-potato audio visual aids in this exhibition as well, in which you can gain an insight into the duller aspects of creative painting. The creativity, naturally, must be inferred.