Colour Inspiration and Honest Confrontation - David Hockney at Tate Britain


Portrait-of-David-Hockney.jpgDavid Hockney, Los Angeles, March 2016 © David Hockney Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima

If you are in need of an inspirational injection of colour in your life, then look no further. David Hockney, master of colour, has been given a major exhibition at Tate Britain covering 60 years of his work and it is the must see, that everyone is talking about, for good reason. Sometimes you need to refill your creative pool and our trip to see the work of one of our heroes did just that.

His use of pinks and viridian greens and bold lush blues is food for our souls. These colours have been a major part of our work and seeing them used in this way gives us life.  

Garden-2015.jpgGarden 2015 Acrylic paint on canvas 1219 x 1828 mm Collection of the artist © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

If you remember our Smash Hits project last year, the lines and colour blocking me palette were massively inspired by Hockney. The way he uses colour is just so unique.

Portrait-of-an-Artist-Pool-with-Two-Figures-1971.jpgPortrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972 Acrylic paint on canvas 2140 x 3048 mm Lewis Collection © David Hockney Photo Credit: Art Gallery of New South Wales / Jenni Carter 

The walls of each space within this exhibition are key to the experience of the colours in Hockney's work. This is not a plain white box experience - each space gives its own unique backdrop to the work with rooms painted entirely in Lilac or Grey or Burgundy allowing the colours to feel all the more vibrant. Proof, if proof were needed, that Art should not be exclusively hung on white walls.

As you move through the rooms, his work goes from dark drawings to stark colourful modernism, Impressionism to futurism, rural to exotic and back again. He moves between different media with a playful excitement that is infectious. He captures moments that can feel so retro and personal but also universal.

A-Lawn-Being-Sprinkled.jpgA Lawn Being Sprinkled 1967 Acrylic paint on canvas 1530 x 1530 mm Lear Family Collection © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Seeing his approach to the nude male form is somehow confrontational because of its honesty. He never shies away, he doesn't care for shame (a big current problem in gay culture), it is unclear whether he intends to be a trailblazer or not, because he just presents himself and moments in his life to you with an honesty that is still so fresh. The clarity is what makes it so powerful. 

Peter-Getting-Out-of-Nicks-Pool.jpgPeter Getting Out of Nick's Pool 1966 Acrylic paint on canvas 1520 x 1520 mm National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery. Presented by Sir John Moores 1968 © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

The most powerful of all for us was his May Blossom. It brings together many elements of his work in such a beautiful way. It's subject matter is quintessential English rural, painted in an impressionistic style and in such bold colours that belong more to his more exotic work, making it seem like a surreal alien landscape. A futuristic glimpse of life on Mars. Colour can have that strong an effect on the subject. 

Woldgate-Woods.jpgWoldgate Woods, 6 & 9 November 2006 2006 Oil paint on six canvases 914 x 1219 mm David Hockney Inc. (Los Angeles, USA)  © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

He deftly reinvents himself as technology offers new opportunity, with his work on paper, then canvas, in Polaroid, then video, then iPad. It inspires us to keep moving forward as designers, keep growing, learning and evolving. 

Seeing his work all together you see the artists process and progression and it is inspiring in itself to see someone at the height of their game who is still prepared to push their own boundaries and try something new. Always fresh. Always growing. Succeeding more powerfully at times than at others but unafraid to experiment. Remaining playful and inquisitive but always honest. 


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