Britain’s most celebrated living artist, David Hockney, has returned to Tate Britain with his biggest show to date. Perhaps best known for his California swimming pool paintings, Hockney approaches his 80th birthday with a vast retrospective exhibition. The show includes over 100 works including pieces from his time at art school to his most recent paintings – and some which have never been seen before in public.
Hockney’s style remains distinct despite that he incorporates elements from Pop art to Baroque to Cubism. His earlier experimental works, whilst studying at the Royal Academy of Arts, are a courageous and bold depiction of homosexuality at a time when it was still criminalised. Although his collection of portraits of his friends and family are lively, upon a closer look they merge into a sea of impassive faces against a flat two-tone repetitive background of deep blues and greens. His figures always seem disconnected, dramatising the distance between viewer and subject.
But still, art students will marvel at Hockney’s different ways of depicting reality. He is a master of constructing how the eye perceives. From bright swimming pools to strange landscapes the artist constantly muddles the viewer’s sense of perception and direction. However, across the many media he works in, his trademark simplicity and familiar geometries remain visually pleasurable.
Amongst his earlier works, though, an unexpected beautiful collection of images created on the iPhone and iPad will surprise viewers. It is said Hockney sends out these techno-sketches to friends.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that celebrates six decades of Hockney’s work. The exhibition will remain until 29 May 2017.