Dear Evening Standard

Hello art fans!

Yesterday I read an article reviewing David Hockey’s latest exhibition and something about it made me very annoyed, so I decided to inform the newspaper of my irritation.

Here’s the original article: David Hockney - The Arrival of Spring

And here’s my response:

"To the editor,

I have an issue with an article published yesterday on David Hockney's latest exhibition - "David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy 2020 review - these iPad paintings are deeply unsatisfying".
 
Although I have to agree that the paintings range from disappointing to dire, I take umbrage with Ben Luke's opinion that "the new works’ weakness lies most in the inadequacies of the iPad itself". I, like Hockney, have become more prolific in my artistic creation during lockdown. I have also turned to the iPad as a useful alternative medium to my usual paper, pencils and brushes. However, unlike Hockney, I'd have to say that the technology has helped, not hindered my work. My drawings are more detailed, I'm free to create much larger works in any location, and I'm not affected by smudging, drying time delays and so forth. Last year I created over 150 artworks between the start of the first lockdown and the end of the second, and with each one I found my skills increasing, not diminishing.
 
(I should point out that I did manage to scrape together the £6.99 for the Procreate app, which has significant advantage over Brushes or whatever free app Hockney uses, but I would hope that one of the wealthiest living artists could also stretch to this sum!)
 
This isn't to advertise the merits of an iPad or various apps, but to point out that the tool is not the inadequate element in this new raft of Hockney's work. As the saying goes, a poor workman blames his tools, and in this case the poor work is entirely the fault of the inadequate artist, not his tools. 
 
The fact these "lifeless" and childish works have automatically received an exhibition at the Royal Academy, while my own and my peers' efforts linger in obscurity, is a damning indictment of the contemporary art world."
… 
 
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying by any means that all Hockney’s work is bad, but I do agree with the writer’s position about the works in this exhibition. In light of my own experiences in the last year or so using an iPad and stylus to create many of my works I was disappointed to see the writer blame the technology for the quality of work, rather than the creator of said work. Given the amazing creations by artists with little at their disposal, including brilliant creators who recycle waste plastic for use as their medium, it seems silly to blame the tools in this case.
 
It’s also a real disappointment to see another white male artist receive the automatic accolade of a Royal Academy exhibition purely on the strength of his name and past fame, rather than the quality of the work created. So many wonderful artists abound and particularly in the aftermath of lockdown it would be far more interesting to see an exhibition of what ordinary artists have created during this weird time.
 

 

PS - This has all given me lots to think about, so I’m going to write more in a separate post on the benefits and hindrances of creating traditional art in a digital format. SH x


The cover image is of my animal series "Alphabet Zoo". Each artwork was created on an iPad using a stylus using the exact same skills and techniques of my "physical" drawings.

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