Last week I treated myself to a day in London. Two of my favourite artists, David Hockney and Lucien Freud, were showing in The Royal Academy and the NationalPortrait Gallery respectively. Unlike my usual procrastinating self, I managed to plan ahead and get tickets for both. Now the plan was to meet Janet who had been visiting her son and daughter in London, view the exhibitions and fly back to Belfast together but when word got out in the classes the snowball effect began. When the time came there were 15 of us wandering around the Royal Academy completely seduced by the colour, genius, scale and boldness of David Hockney’s landscapes. Canvases which, up close, appeared as a mass of marks, colour and pattern, when glimpsed from across the hall or through a doorway suddenly lit up and made perfect spatial sense. Yorkshire as it’s never been seen before.The grand canyon – so hot you virtually needed sun cream to stop you burning! There have been many programmes recently reviewing this exhibition and interviewing Hockney and I love his positivity, curiosity and enthusiasm for life. He has brought colour into a very grey Belfast winter. With a second exhibition to view we were restricted by time and my only regret is that I didn’t leave more time to look more closely at the sketch books located in a room almost at the end. Looking at sketch books is how you really get into the mind of an artist.
A short tube ride, lunch and a glass of wine later 10 of us embarked on the Freud show at the National Portrait Gallery. I had viewed an exhibition of his work at IMMA in Dublin a few years ago so I thought I was being a bit indulgent and that the highlight of my day had been the morning’s events. How wrong I was! In contrast to twinkly-eyed Hockney, the reviews on Lucien Freud have painted a rather negative and complex image of the man himself – isolated and obsessive to the point of what could be perceived as emotional cruelty in his personal relationships. How true that is or was I will never know. What I do know is that his paintings are sublime. His portrayal not just of likenesses but of details and idiosyncracies that others would overlook. The finely tuned palette and the voluptuous consistency of the paint. The thoughtful brushmarks. Foreheads. Hands. Dogs. Sad gazes. There are no tricks, no clever techniques just the honesty and integrity of one of life’s observers possibly one of life’s outsiders. Despite being considered unfashionable for many years he stayed true to his own vision. I was enthralled and immensely inspired.
Although entirely different, for me the message from both of these artists is – just look, it’s all there.
“A Bigger Picture” David Hockney RA can be seen at the Royal Academy until 9 April 2012
Lucien Freud Portraits can be seen at the National Portrait Gallery until 27 May 2012
One of the big highlights of the day was meeting up with my big sis, Gerry http://pottershousepenketh.blogspot.com and my niece, Natasha of Nevie-pie Cakes http://amelieshouse.blogspot.com Do have a look at their blogs!