'He is ever-young, ever-reinventing himself as an artist, roaming about here or there and stopping to set it down, ever alert and singing with life and genius'
Friday 21 October 2011
eing from Scarborough, I admire anyone who admits to hailing from Bridlington, Scarborians thinking nowt o' Brid. But for the world's greatest painter by a country mile to live there, after having enjoyed the vividness of California is a matter for wonder.
Look at a Hockney, look at your world. It has changed: the trees his Yorkshire trees, the sky his Californian sky, cloudscape a Bridlington one, the tulips, elderly mothers, Grimms' fairytale characters – all his.
In my 20s and broke, I was offered a Hockney, of tulips, for 200 quid, riches beyond the dreams of avarice then. I regret that picture almost daily. I still dream about it. Go to Saltaire, near Leeds, to see Hockney: for his theatre and opera designs – no one else has ever gotThe Magic Fluteso right – for pencil drawings of intricate beauty and exactness, photographs based on paintings and paintings based on photographs, for stuff from his youthful heyday in the 60s, stuff from his mad middle years when all he seemed to care about were azure swimming pools and hot sun on bodies, and later, photographic triptychs and astonishing trees, the same trees in different seasons, and the exactly right muddy Yorkshire landscape.
I have a small book of Hockney's illustrations for Grimms' Fairy Tales, spikey, sinister little drawings of Rumpelstiltskin and Rapunzel, of sticks and straw and long hair and magic mountains. No colour here, everything stark, everything in meticulous black line and half tone. The whole world-picture of the fairytales is gathered together.
Hockney is happy-making, energising. He is ever-young, ever-reinventing himself as an artist, roaming about here or there and stopping to set it down, ever alert and singing with life and genius. I can't draw an egg but he makes me think I could. The only quarrel I have with Hockney is not that he comes from Brid but that he likes dachshunds. It's a small price to pay.