photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
in the feature documentary HOCKNEY (BLAKEWAY, 2014) about the revered 20th century BRITISH painter DAVID HOCKNEY there is a quote attribute to him that paraphrased essentially argues that a transformation in viewing leads to a transformation in feeling. this conceit is the central thread that connects a life of creative work that really runs the stylistic gamut from ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM through POP ART. at heart HOCKNEY's work is concerned with perceived reality and is figure-based, but the aesthetic expressions of such showcase a talent concerned with SELF-ANALYSIS and SELF-EXPLORATION throughout his life: especially regarding his own relationship to his SEXUALITY. as his self-discovery through ART blossoms, so does his feelings towards such and the community that supports him.
being the child of RADIO from the SLEEPY northern industrial YORKSHIRE town of BRADFORD, HOCKNEY was well aware of the exploits of ESCAPISM that his IMAGINATION could provide, especially after discovering the local CINEMA as a child. movies provided both an escape and a spark that transported him far away from his DREARY routine in a crowded apartment that he shared with his parents and four siblings. its hard not to read that TRANSFORMATIONAL dream-like element into his paintings, almost SURREAL and GIORGIO DE CHIRICO-sque, that was no doubt so aided by both CINEMA and TELEVISION. the later of which he first witnessed as a teenager. even the notion of AMERICA and specifically HOLLYWOOD as a locust for personal expression and self-made REINVENTION seems rooted in this childhood attachment to MOTION PICTURES. my feeling is that its truly difficult to properly understand the REVOLUTION that was CINEMA if you were not a child of the RADIO beforehand. it was an EXPANSIVE and MIND-ALTERING INVENTION probably on par with the INTERNET a few generations later.
whereas his POP ART contemporaries in ANDY WARHOL and ROY LICHENSTEIN were more concerned with the MARCEL DUCHAMP-ian conceit of locating the AUTHENTICITY found in REPETITION and COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING and INDUSTRIAL PAINTING TECHNIQUES, HOCKNEY seemingly was more INTROSPECTIVE in both his focus and his subject matter. he usually painted associates, family and friends utilizing a CAMERA as the basis for his ART. interestingly HOCKNEY saw the emotional limitations of PHOTOGRAPHY as the starting point for his CREATIVE WORK, as he was able to warp elements such as color, proportion, light, composition and especially PERSPECTIVE to his will. though based in TRADITIONAL representational depictions of reality, over time his work confronted the VANISHING-POINT techniques from antiquity and sought out a wider PERSPECTIVE that took in multiple angles. his later work sought to seek the EMOTIONAL TRUTH found in a myriad of PERSPECTIVES on a single subject. almost twisting the idea of REPETITION on its head towards something altogether INSULAR and undoubtedly INNOVATIVE.
in many ways, being a HOMOSEXUAL in BOHEMIAN circles during his career was likewise a bold act of self-determination as such was completely TABOO in polite society. maybe i am reading in too much, but both his ARTISTIC and SEXUAL pursuits were related activities. i can only imagine the tragedy of the 1980s where the rise of AIDS effectively rendered two-thirds of his COMMUNITY gone seemingly overnight, especially in NEW YORK. that deep loss of vitality. that loss of potential. the seeming indifference of a CONSERVATIVE AMERICAN body politic that had yet to come to terms with its own constituent parts. it is still SHOCKING, even in retrospect.
many of HOCKNEY's friends, contemporaries, assistants and business partners participated in this film such as ED RUSCHA, JACK LARSON, DON BACHARDY, JOHN KASMIN, RAYMOND FOYE, TCHAIK CHASSEY, MELISSA NORTH, GEORGE LAWSON, WAYNE SLEEP, PHILIP STEADMAN, JOSEPH CLARK, KENNETH TYLER, CHARLIE SCHEIPS and DAVID OXTOBY. they likewise provide a multi-perspective on the subject himself, who is interviewed throughout. HOCKNEY was an absolutely REVELATORY and extremely WELL-CONSTRUCTED film that i highly recommend to anyone interested in MODERN ART or QUEER STUDIES. required viewing in my opinion.