In 2006, David Hockney began painting the same view of a forest near his childhood home multiple times, capturing the play of light and shadow in different seasons and at different times of day. The resulting lyrical, highly personal series developed from his belief that technological devices such as the camera lucida are what enabled the Old Masters to achieve exceptional precision: This notion has led Hockney to focus on the concept of perspective in his own work.
Hockney has done landscapes before: His road pictures based on Chinese scroll paintings and his Los Angeles pool scenes certainly qualify as such. Yet the contemplative images in “Looking at Woldgate Woods” are not what we expect from him; they reveal no evidence of his gift for narrative or love of portraiture. The artist’s signature passion for rich, vibrant color is palpable, however, and the gallery’s mahogany walls—painted specially for this installation—make the changing greens pop, not to mention the unexpected blues, violets, reds and oranges.
Since there are as yet no plans to show these enthralling pictures at other American venues, seeing this contemporary master’s show is mandatory for anyone with even a passing interest in painting.