June 2012- Acrylic on canvas, 50 x 70cm
Although this is a painting of a Basque landscape, what I’ve been thinking recently is how certain elements can trigger our emotional responses. So that in a sense, how we see or interprete anything, (in this case a landscape ) is really a question of how our memories from years of experiences are constantly being recalled, reinterpreted & built upon. In a way, the more universal element of what I’m trying to express is really about my love of the exuberance of June. And that streches back in time & place. The emotion becomes to a certain extent both timeless & without place. Or at least the real “place” or “sense of place” is in the brain.
So for you, the viewer that looks at this image, your “place” will of course be unique. An image becomes I suppose, a sort of shared space, where there can be an infinite overlap of responses because of our shared human experience.
At the moment I’m reading Antonio Damasio’s book “The feeling of what happens – body, emotion and the making of consciousness” so I suppose that’s partly why I am thinking along these lines. Ive read another very interesting book by him- the title is something to do with Spinoza , but I can’t remember it exactly & I’ve lent the book to someone! I’d recommend them both anyway.
In a similar light to do with emotion I’ve been thinking about my response to the Hockney exhibition. I can’t possibly express in words how wonderful it is; His paintings of the Yorkshire Wolds just totally capture the whole essence of the place. Or at least they trigger in me an enormous sense of emotion. Although I personally discovered the Wolds as a student cycling through on my bicycle, so I can relate the paintings to my own experience, I think that is a minor aspect for me. Because obviously as paintings they are far more than just pictures of a place – they are totally universal & you don’t need to have ever visited the place that inspired Hockney in order to be transported by them. The paintings are I think not just about Yorkshire , but about Hockney’s entire life really – they are after all HIS unique response . It’s interesting the way he goes backwards & forwards revisiting certain approaches in his work, but also extending those approaches. Which seems to me to be not unlike how our memories work. And if we get that uplifting feeling from them, it’s that he is a genius at engaging our emotion.
I have been twice already to the exhibition, which is on in the Guggenheim, Bilbao. Luckily for me, David Hockney is not so well known (at least he hasn’t been until now!) in Spain or in France as he is in the UK. Which meant you could really appreciate the paintings without too many people getting in the way!
I still don’t understand though, why so many people walk round with those headphones on telling them what to think. Okay, I can understand sometimes wanting to find out more information, but can’t that be done before or after actually looking at the work. How can you possibly fully engage with art whilst listening to a load of commentary? Wouldn’t it be a bit like, for example, listening to Bach & simultaneously reading a complicated essay on how that piece of music had been composed? The information might be perfectly interesting at a certain level, but you wouldn’t be transported by the music under those circumstances!
And…oh dear now I’m just too lazy to translate this lot into French or Spanish – though I would really be interested to know other peoples’ responses to the Hockney exhibition.