David Hockney: Drawing from Life ★★★★ National Portrait Gallery | Until June 28, 2020


This major exhibition of David Hockney's drawings invites us to share the artist's fascination with the passage of time while contemplating his personal and artistic development. Along with seeing Hockney age and grow through a variety of self-portraits, we enter his world and share the changing realities of those who have inspired him over the years: his friend Celia Birtwell; his mother, Laura Hockney; his curator and business manager, Gregory Evans, and master printer, Maurice Payne. These four individuals who formed the pillars of Hockney's emotional and artistic world are on display as evolving characters and the relationships are fascinatingly traced through Hockney's explorations of various techniques and approaches. For us, it was the series of portraits of Birtwell that were a particular highlight. Hockney's presentations of her beautifully expose her developing character and their ever deepening and more comfortable intimacy. It is a quite stunning revelation of a friendship that lasts and grows over time. Simultaneously, we savoured Hockney's technical prowess and his exploration of various artistic influences from Ingres to Picasso. The capacity for innovation and quotation never cease to amaze and delight. The artist who chronicled a period of his life in the engaging and amusing series inspired by Hogarth's A Rake's Progress is equally whimsical and revelatory in the recent iPad self-portraits. The show ends with pictures of Hockney's friends done in 2019. They are a testament to the enduring relationships, to the journey the friends have taken together, and to the artist's unflagging drive to explore and record his experience. This is another first-rate exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by David Parry.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until June 28, 2020
Daily: 10 am - 6 pm (Friday until 9 pm)
National Portrait Gallery, Wolfson Gallery
Nearest tube: Leicester Square
https://www.npg.org.uk/whatson/david-hockney-drawing-from-life/exhibition

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