What about David Hockney

... or more particularly, people who say he stands as one of the pillars of post-war British art and our greatest living painter and probably the greatest contemporary British artist. He's here again, designing a stained glass window for Westminster Abbey and a logo for the Sun newspaper. In 2017 David Hockney is also at Tate Britain for "his most comprehensive exhibition yet."

I don't mind bad painters. The more people painting pictures the better and there is no need to be good at it. The problem comes when everyone stops knowing the difference. In David's case that is a lot of people. He is not even as good as Jack Vettriano. Actually, Jack has become quite a skillful painter. I like him. He recognised his limitations and set about improving things. But David goes on churning out the dross because people keep saying how great he is, which he always knew.

I have strengthened my opinion about David Hockney. He is actually a complete total duffer as an artist. I came across his hideous portrait of Oona Zlamany and it does not even reach the standard of a kindergarten art class. I also read the rambling nonsense he's been spouting about painting and photography and his apparent belief that he's discovered a new kind of perspective. He says "there is something wrong with perspective" and claims to correct it with close-up photos of everything in the picture before he puts it together. Then he says his paintings are 3D because they have multiple vanishing points. It is nonsensical. But my complaint is not really that; it's ugliness of his paintwork, the slapdash crudity, the complete lack of subtlety, even disdain for medium itself—if all you're going to do is splodge it on the way David does you might as well use an iPad.

Which is what he does. It suits the colours he uses in his paintings: California pinks, purples, blues and greens, all full on, the volume turned up to maximum, horribly distorted. It might have suited 1960s swimming pools in a trendy sort of way but the effect of this 40-year old idea on the Yorkshire countryside is the most vulgar landscape paintings I have ever seen. The formula is important to David because it masks the absence of anything else, especially as he paints big; pictures drawing attention to themselves for all the wrong reasons.

According to my newspaper David Hockney's show is fastest-selling exhibition in Tate's history (a retrospective at Tate Britain). The same article describes how his exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2012 was one of the most successful in that gallery's history. According to Hockney: "Never under­estimate the power of cheap music."

Page last modified: January 29, 2018


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Patrick Elsewhere

The art of Françoise Taylor:
paintings & drawings by my mother, vécue 1920-2007