Yesterday, because it was cold and snowy, I posted a snow painting: today, because it’s cold and snowy, I’m posting a sun-drenched one. David Hockney’s Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).
The real thing is ten foot wide, and it doesn’t benefit from being reduced to 500 pixels; you don’t get a sense of the big flat areas of pure colour. But the composition survives, at least: the hard-edged geometrical paving against the wobbly blue of the pool, the red jacket against the dark green hills. The jacket draws your eye to the figure by the poolside, but his eyeline and the angle of the hill lead you down to the more elusive figure of the swimmer. Hockney’s paintings always seem so well balanced, they have a poised, static quality that I love.
I think you can see in his version of California the eye of a Yorkshireman; someone who doesn’t take sunshine for granted. He’s part of that whole tradition of northern Europeans who find their way south and experience all that light as a kind of miracle: Van Gogh and Matisse, heading to the Mediterranean and suddenly producing paintings full of light and colour. D.H. Lawrence, Byron, Laurie Lee.