I love the art of David Hockney and have been lucky enough to go to two of his exhibitions so when I received this book for my birthday, I was thrilled.
Spring Cannot be Cancelled is a series of conversations, mostly by phone and email, between the artist, David Hockney and Martin Gayford, an art critic, author and friend of Hockney. In 2019, Hockney moved to Normandy with his assistant and Gayford visited him there. Some of their conversations during that visit form the first chapter of the book and then most of the remainder are records of phone and zoom calls and emails between the two. As well as the emails, Gayford provides biographical details about Hockney which provide some background to the subjects that they discuss as well as his thoughts on what they discuss.
It sounds a bit boring when I sum it up like this but the book itself is fascinating. Hockney is 82 but his enthusiasm for life and his art remain as strong as ever. His love of nature and desire to paint what he sees is a common thread through all of the chapters.
“You should paint what you love. I’m painting what I love; I’ve always done it”
The move to Normandy meant that he was able to just step outside and look at the countryside and his delight in being to do this is clear. He talks about the tiny details such as the ripples in water and how they are constantly moving and then moves onto how he tries to represent these things in pictures and also compares the way that other artists have attempted the same thing.
Hockney also talks a lot about how he works and the need he has to paint every day.
“I have to paint. I’ve always wanted to do it. That’s my job I think, making pictures, and I’ve gone on doing it for over 60 years.”
He discusses how he uses different methods to recreate what he sees in front of him. One of the things that I have always loved about his work is his use of modern technology and he talks about how he uses his ipad to create his pictures. We also see inside his studio and he compares his to the studios of other artists both past and present.
Obviously, in a book about Art, you want to see what they are talking about and the book is full of pictures, not only of Hockney’s work but also pictures by other artists who have inspired him or simply made him think about something differently.
The illustrations aren’t just put together in a picture section as so often happens in a paperback but actually in the correct place in the text so there is no need to be constantly flipping backwards and forwards between the picture and the text. Ironically, one of the things that he talks about is that seeing a picture of an artwork is not the same as being faced with the actual painting but at least the pictures show what he is talking about.
“You notice more with each successive year.”
I loved this book and Hockney’s ability to still be inspired by the tiny day to day changes in trees, light and water is something that makes me want to go out and try to do the same.
This is my eighth book Non-Fiction book so far in 2022 so I’m well on track to hit my Non-Fiction Reader Challenge this year. The Non-Fiction Reader Challenge is hosted at Book’dout and you can find the details of the challenge here