My experience of the David Hockney exhibition

Earlier today I visited the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy.


An enlarged mind is an enriched mind, where we cannot escape the power of imagination. Hockney and the exhibition’s curators have deliberately chosen a “dense hang” to convey the volume of small-scale paintings produced from his immediate observation. In one of the rooms, Hockney’s 24 “oil on canvas” Yorkshire landscapes, all from Summer 2005, are presented on one wall. They create a combined impact, bringing about a restlessness and breathlessness in my appreciation. Recreating a balmy, languid and colourful Summer, my mind has to compute individuation (each painting in its own right) and a relentless search for connecting patterns (the 24 paintings taken together). It is torn between unification and differentiation, and unable to default to one or the other. Order is sustained by desire for coherence, but it is constrained by a reality principle that order cannot be imposed, only imagined and pursued. On reflection, I realise that mind’s default is a collaborative spirit, which I take to be a recognition that the world is locked into complex dynamic of finding common ground and difference. The mind relies heavily on attention to individuation and connecting with a bigger picture, whether that bigger picture is obvious to me, or I have to find or create it.
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