Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hockney's stump --- Day 2/288

Walk: No
Distance: 0, small yoga practice

There is a particular tree stump that shows up again and again in David Hockney's art. Hockney called it his 'totem' and arranged with a local English landowner to have it remain standing even after all the trees around it were cut down.  Eventually the art world came to see the stump as a personal symbol for Hockney himself, and the artist admitted as much.

Last year, while Hockney was in the hospital attempting to recover from a series of strokes that had stolen his ability to form and speak sentences and worsened his already very poor hearing, someone spray painted the stump in neon colors and then chopped it down.

The meaning of this was clear. It was a murderous assault against Hockney and looking at the stump was for all, including Hockney, like viewing his body.  This, again, while he was in precarious straits in the hospital.  Devastating.  Incomprehensible.

And so was Hockney's response.  As soon as he was well enough, he went directly to the chainsawed stump (his lifeless standin) -  and drew it.

                              and drew it.

                                                                         Many times..

Death portraits.  His own.  There is thinking about Hockney's art that it is partially about personal triumph over life's 'limitations.'  That perhaps he has a sense if he can look at and fully record something - in this case and others death - with his eagle sharp vision, then he has risen above it. He has stared it down, incorporated it, said "Okay, that was hard, but I'm still here. You didn't destroy me. There's a new reality now and I'm throwing that life and this art against death.'

No comments:

Post a Comment