David Hocney exhibition "82 Portraits and 1 Still-life"

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David Hocney exhibition "82 portraits and 1 Still-life" is held at Ca Pesaro gallery in Venice from 24 June to 22 October 2017 and is curated by Edith Devaney with the collaboration of the National Gallery London. It's no coincidence the lagoon city and in particular Ca Pesaro have been chosen as location for the event, because as the curator said, the artist can be connected to the great Venetian tradition of the portrait and be considered a Modern master.Hocney is one of the major artists of the British Pop Art, famous for the swimming pool series and his tecnique that combines minimalism and taste for experimentation in new tecniques from photography to ipad.

The portraits realised in three days have not been commissioned but the artist has chosen as models relatives and friends for this series.The models, free to pose as they like, are represented in the full lenght head to toe, sat on a chair, in a plain blackground, in the tones of bright blue and green according to the colour of the clothes they chose to wear. The title of the exhibition add a touch of humour that always have distinguished Hocney's taste and leaves a question why among this portraits there is a still-life? What is the meaning? The artist painted a vase of fruit and vegetables instead of one of the model, because he didn't come to the session.

But it has been a dramatic event to inspire David Hocney to start this project and come back after 20 years to portrait: the death of one of his assistants. This sorrow is well represented in the first portrait of the series: the assistant Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima is crouched on the chair, hiding his face, completely desperate.Hocney believes in the power of Art as personal therapy and this collection can be seen as a passage from pain to the celebration of the joy of life.The exhibition conveys a great sense of humanity and affection for the people portraited, a celebration of the individual with all its difference, different look, age, class, attitude all treated with the same respect and attention. Hocney has great interest for the interiority and the outside becomes for him a mirror of the inside. 

Hocney thinks the power of painting is greater than photography in giving life to a portrait. If the photographer can create millions of snap-shout, catching the instant only the painter can give a deeper vision of the person portraited, the portrait is not just a copy of every physiognomic details, but is something beyond phisical appearance, it deals with the mysteries of the soul, with the emotions in the person represented. That's why every portrait is charming and mysterious. A painted portrait is always between reality and abstraction, between objectivity and subjectivity. The portrait painted in comparison with the photographic one is not anacronistic, but a different concept, is a meditation, a reflection of the artist. As Hockney observed that ‘It’s a very psychological project. The 24-hour exposure is not only visual. These people are revealed.’ 

This research for introspection, this formal expressivity so simple and complex at the same time and this taste for bright and intense tonalities connects Hocney to the great masters of Venetian school like Bellini, Tintoretto, Tiziano and Giorgione. But for David Hocney, painting is not just an heritage from the past, still very updated on new technologies, he thinks this form of Art offers new undiscovered opportunities in the future: ‘Landscape and portraiture are the two subjects modernists said you couldn’t do anymore. But you can, everythingis open now. Landscape and portraiture remain infinite.’ 

Article by Veronica Mafolino

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