David Hockney: spring is in the air

Michaël Bellon

A year after Keith Haring left the building, Bozar welcomes another pop art star into its fold. Put on your rose-tinted glasses for a glimpse into the wonderful universe of David Hockney.

Let’s start with auction prices. At 90.3 million euros, Portrait of an Artist by David Hockney is still the most expensive painting by a living artist ever sold at auction. The canvas shows one of the many colourful swimming pool scenes that the painter from Bradford, England made in the 1960s and 1970s after he moved to California. With this, Hockney was certainly more successful in life than that other holder of an expensive paintbrush Vincent van Gogh, with whom he is sometimes compared because of his shimmering use of colour and sustained preference for landscapes and still lifes.

The 84-year-old pop artist who likes to paint reality in acrylic paint has been painting for more than 60 years, so after 30 years Bozar is bringing him back to Brussels for a large double exhibition that you can visit with just one ticket.

The main event is “Works from the Tate Collection, 1954-2017”, a retrospective of more than 80 paintings, drawings and prints reflecting Hockney’s entire career. With iconic images from both London’s Swinging Sixties and Southern California. With both his famous monumental double portraits My Parents and Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy and his monumental landscapes, and they are not all of them sunny by the way. For example, Bigger Trees Near Warter from 2007 – Hockney’s largest work measuring over twelve metres in length – is an impression of a gloomy day in Yorkshire.

More than an encore to this retrospective is “The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020”, presented in collaboration with London’s Royal Academy of Arts. It is an experimental series of no less than 116 works that Hockney “painted” on his iPad in Normandy while in lockdown there. They are a witness to Hockney’s still undiminished passion for experimentation, but also to the optimism that his work conveys: “Do remember they can’t cancel the spring.” These 116 digital works will be printed on high quality paper and exhibited in their entirety at Bozar.

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