Abstract Canvas Prints No 69 : Paul Cezanne, The Father of Us All (1839-1906)
‘He was the first artist to paint using two eyes’, said David Hockney (born 1937).
I smiled. This septuagenarian British artist has a refreshing direct way of speaking about art.
It is mid January 2012, and we are discussing Paul Suzanne, the French Post-Impressionist painter, while walking around a show of Hockney’s own work.
London was gearing up to host the Olympic Games that summer, and as part of the cities celebrations David Hockney had been given the vast spaces of the Royal Academy in Piccadilly to fill.
The task he had completed by producing image upon image of the same subject: the hills, fields, trees and parts of East Yorkshire in the north of England.
Now well into his 70s, he has refocused his attention on Britain’s moody landscape having decided to leave behind the bright lights of Hollywood, where he has worked and lived for the past 30 years.
The pictures – some oil paintings, others iPad printouts – are fascinating and exciting.
Fascinating because of the colours and shapes Hockney sees: paths of purple, tree trunks are orange leaves become Technicolour teardrops.
And exciting because it is the first time a recognised painter of Hockney’s international standing has made a comprehensive attempt to re-imagine England’s rural landscape in at least half a century.
I’ll go further. Hopkins contemporary nature paintings are the most surprising, original and provocative landscapes produced since those painted over 100 years ago in France by the man who is the topic of our conversation, Paul Cezanne.
And it is quite apparent that the British artist is greatly influenced by the Post-Impressionist, both in his art and in his mind.
As we talked and then ambled around his exhibition, Hockney made several impassioned points about how images are made and perceived.
They were his observations on observing, all of which can be traced back to the pioneering work of the man known as the ‘Master of Aix’.