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Canton 79-14

Canton 79-14
Signed Print

David Hockney

Photographic print, 1981
Signed Print
H 18cm x W 28cm

Critical Review

This signed print by British artist David Hockney is an excellent example of the artist’s ‘tongue-in-cheek’ nature, and testament to a self-deriding sense of humour which continues to permeate his art today. In 1981, Hockney designed sets and costumes for several operas at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, some of which feature in the Hockney And The Stage series. In May of the same year, Hockney toured China in the company of Stephen Spender, a writer and poet, and friend, onetime partner and curator, Gregory Evans. Whilst in China, Hockney would take photographs and make watercolours in order to incorporate making art into a busy travel schedule. Many of the images captured or created on the trip were published in the book China Diary (1982). In this whimsical image of a sign, Chinese and English-language imperatives inhibit Hockney’s lens from carrying out its function, and the artist from making his art. The sign also bans Hockney from engaging in what he has often called his second favourite pastime: smoking. Consuming a pack of cigarettes a day and famously avoiding those places where he cannot smoke, Hockney is addressed directly by this image in a decidedly comic fashion. Capturing the sign on camera, the artist engages in dialogue with a country that has had profound influence on his work and philosophy.

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