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May 15, 2017 | by  | in From Within the Fallout Zone |
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From Within The Fallout Zone

David Hockney at Tate Britain

Modern Art is to me what Bavaria is to Critic’s latest booze review — “like a finger in the bum hole. Not enough people think to try it, but if you do, you discover it’s a bloody good time.” I haven’t really tried it, luckily. But my girlfriend’s an artist and convinced me to go and see her favourite, so last week I went to David Hockney’s retrospective at Tate Britain. It was a bloody good time.

The little I know is that before Hockney there were the modernists, who began the movement with all the rigour of something new. And after Hockney came animal parts in formaldehyde and plexi-glass, and all the contradictions of postmodernism. I can say, formulaically, Hockney is at the zenith of modern art. He rigorously tests modernism’s big ideas: cubism, perspective, light, and movement, without giving in to the excess of postmodern art, like shooting yourself. But the exhibition’s pamphlet could have told you something along those lines.

Beyond the response of my amateurish art critic voice, the Hockney retrospective was inspiring. In the space of two hours Hockney made me see the fragility of parenthood (My Parents, 1977); made me wish to see the light across Los Angeles from the Pacific Coast Highway (Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Monica, 1990); and told me there is something beyond modern design other than IKEA’s stock price (Large Interior, Los Angeles, 1988). It is shocking he can be so thought-provoking, and at the same time be so playful, even childlike.

It is almost antithetical to London. London is provocative, but in very cynical ways, like: “how can Earth support so many people?”; “Why are there so many people in this queue?”; “With all these people, I bet it’s going to get too hot on the Tube soon”; and so on, including something about the oppressively dreary weather. Thankfully, the retrospective was the perfect antidote, even with the slowly bulging crowd on a Saturday morning.

Among the many old white people at the exhibition (cringing, I had the privilege of seeing the exhibition during members-only hours), there were a number of children who were obviously enjoying the art as much as anyone, with shrieks of enjoyment breaking the very adult respectful art-gallery-quiet. It is fantastic the artworks can be so full of bright colour, fantasy, and fun — to the point of a child’s scream — while being so serious, and seriously good. I suppose this is what I mean when I say the exhibition is a nice antidote to London’s oppressiveness. Such an antidote, I hardly felt a pang of guilt buying the exhibition’s poster.

(NB, in regards to Critic’s Booze Review: Bavaria beer is shithouse; it’s a lot less like a finger in the bum than modern art).

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