British artist David Hockney has always been a workhorse, so his months-long lockdown in France was a welcome opportunity to devote himself to observing nature.
“I really enjoy watching,” the neat 84-year-old told AFP.
“When you look at the world, it’s very beautiful. But you have to have a clear head and there are many things that stop you from looking.”
Hockney spoke to AFP at the Musee de L’Orangerie in Paris, where the stunning fruits of that period are showcased in an exhibition, “A Year in Normandy,” which opens October 13.
It has a 91-meter frieze composed of some of the 220 photos he took during the strange year of solitude in 2020.
It’s a definite nod to the 19th-century masters of the landscape, especially Monet, who inhabits some of the adjoining rooms in the museum.
“When the lockdown came, I didn’t mind at all,” said Hockney, 84, stunning as ever in his signature round glasses and a checked suit.
“We were in a remote place and I worked every day because there were no visitors. Visitors scare me, get in the way.”
All the drawings were done on an iPad, which has become his favorite way to create art – far more than the photographs that used to be so central to his work.
“I’m really off photography now,” he said.
“Everyone is a photographer. Everyone has a cell phone in their pocket, they can all take pictures. Pictures are very boring.”
He likes to draw on the iPad, which frees him from the paraphernalia of ordinary painting.
“It’s a new technique. I don’t think there are many people doing it,” he said.
– ‘You can’t cancel the spring’ –
The dazzling colors of the Normandy countryside are a perfect match for Hockney, who made a name for himself in the 1960s with sun-drenched scenes from California.
Although he was known for his jet set lifestyle, sartorial elegance and a large following of friends, he has always been an industrial worker and was delighted to have time to devote himself to nature, which has been his main muse in recent years. become.
“They’ve canceled the Olympics, but you can’t cancel the spring,” he said with a mischievous grin.
“The first day we got to Normandy, we saw a beautiful sunset over the mouth of the Seine. We had the clarity of Van Gogh.”
He rejects the idea that landscapes are no longer an interesting subject for art.
“Nature is the source of everything. When I went to Yorkshire 16 years ago, people said ‘you can’t paint a landscape these days’. I said ‘it’s just because of the paintings — the landscape itself can’t be boring’.
“The images of them have become boring, that’s all. You have to make them a little different – and that’s what I’ve tried to do.”