It’s really a wonderful story like always with David Hockney. Two years ago he was looking for a new place to paint, having decided to leave Los Angeles, which had become too far to commute from England. Jean Frémon, director of his French gallery, Lelong & Co, was in London for the inauguration of the stainless glass windows the Queen had commissioned from him, for Westminster Abbey. And they discussed a new geographical life for him. “Why don’t you come and visit me in Honfleur, and stay for a few days?” The next day, David Hockney was at Ferme Saint Siméon, a fancy country hotel, and after visiting the Bayeux tapestry which he had not seen since 1967, he decided, in two days, to buy a house south of Cabourg. Within a month, he was back in L.A to pack, and moved to Normandy in February 2019. This led to the two exhibitions of paintings and drawings which opened last Friday in Paris. Next year the Royal Academy will show his iPad drawings which will also be exhibited at l’Orangerie in Paris.
Some of the paintings are reminiscent of Monet’s, especially the one, “Some Smaller Splashes”, a rain scene painted in the summer of 2020, but mostly Hockney rediscovers Normandy and features his old 17 th century farm and apple press (pressoir) which he turned into his studio. Like he did in Yorkshire, he writes a storyboard of his new life with apple trees and includes not only his dog Ruby but also his cars parked in front of the house. We witness his daily life in his new surroundings, with a wonderful drawing of his studio, the neatly mowed lawns, and the wonderful typical Normandy half-timbered house, which will certainly become invaluable now.
Normandy of course with its continual changing light and clear skies, is perfect for a painter who knows so much about Impressionists and was able to switch from the bright sunny pools of California to vibrant forests in Yorkshire. He has captured Spring in Normandy in his acrylic paintings and other seasons on his iPad. Once again, David Hockney impresses and surprises us with the youth of his inventiveness, and his dexterity at recreating reality.
While the series of apple trees is very sunny with its yellow splashes, the real Norman light comes out best in this “Trees Mist” where greys play with greens. The village of Beuvron en Auge is featured in a panoramic diptych, which hangs at the end of the first floor gallery of rue de Téhéran. It is surrounded by the apple trees and larger landscapes with purple paths which reminded me of David Hockney’s fabulous series in Yorkshire.
At 83, David Hockney is totally amazing and so young in his style. Let’s hope that this exhibition will not ruin his solitude and relative secrecy in Normandy where he fled from the London light. Do rush to see these two shows on rue de Téhéran and avenue Matignon. they are exhilarating and it is safe to book ahead on week ends. Prices for the paintings are 5 M$ and 35 000$ for the prints.
Galerie Lelong & Co until December 23.
Share this Post