Hockney moved from London to Los Angeles in 1964, and produced some of his most vividly striking works during his occupancy here. The Yosemite Suite speaks to his enduring attachment to California, as he renders the national park in lively colour with a strong sense of familiarity.
The Yosemite Suite was made the year the first iPad was released. Hockney had been using his iPhone to draw, and graduated to the iPad to use its larger surface area and draw en plein air. Using the new technology, Hockney emulated his iconic style, depicting the national park in his distinctive and vibrant palette. Hockney himself remarked: "I just happen to be an artist who uses the iPad, I'm not an iPad artist. It's just a medium. But I am aware of the revolutionary aspects of it, and its implications."
Across Hockney's life-spanning body of work, he has always depicted landscapes with an unparalleled joyousness. As the artist himself said, "We can only replenish ourselves by looking at nature." With his application of bold and vibrant colour, The Yosemite Suite reveals the restorative power of nature.
While Hockney is adept in describing figures and landscapes with an almost photographic likeness, his style is characterised by a more graphic approach. As we see in his Swimming Pools, Hockney renders natural elements in a distinctly two-dimensional way, alluding to his physical and emotional attachment to his subject matter.
By executing his drawings on the iPad, Hockney allowed for much greater opportunities during the printing process. Contrary to a physical drawing, which might become distorted when enlarged, the quality of his vector-based digital images afforded him more scope to enlarge to a monumental scale.
The breathtaking landscape of Yosemite has inspired countless artists over the centuries. From William Zorach's Fauvist rendition of a Yosemite Valley in watercolour, to Hockney's digital rendition of the national park's towering trees, the natural splendour of Yosemite has attracted artists from all over the world.
Hockney's digitally rendered series depicts the landmarks of the national park, which would be instantly recognisable to frequenters of Yosemite. By populating some of these drawings with human figures, Hockney perpetuates the grand scale of the natural landscape.
Hockney has embraced innovations in technology throughout his career, and integrated them into his artistic practice to create innovative works in keeping with his time. Perhaps his favourite technological art medium, Hockney has used his iPad to create many series in the past decade, including his Digital Drawings and The Arrival Of Spring In 2011.
Hockney began using the Brushes app on his iPad in 2011, and was immediately fascinated by the endless opportunities afforded by the technology. In The Yosemite Suite, Hockney uses different effects in the app to create blocks of colour to delineate the landscape, and meticulous detail with his distinctive mark-making. For Hockney, Brushes is the ultimate digital art tool, not merely because "there is no cleaning up needed even if you have drawn all day".
In his colourful palette and graphic approach to the landscape, The Yosemite Suite is reminiscent of Hockney's earlier painted landscapes. The series is therefore testament to Hockney's versatility as an artist, as he still captures the quintessential Hockney style when drawing digitally.