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Photographic print, 1981
H 15cm x W 20cm
This signed photographic print by British artist David Hockney, entitled Kweilin, was made in 1981 and is product of a trip Hockney made to China in the same year. During the trip, Hockney was accompanied by the English writer and poet, Stephen Spender, and friend, onetime partner and curator, Gregory Evans. In this image, Hockney’s camera focuses on Spender’s face as they take a boat trip along the Li River, home to some of the best examples of karst topography in the world. A member of the so-called Auden group, Spender was a personal friend of one of Hockney’s major literary influences, W.H. Auden (immortalised in the 1970 etching Auden), and Christopher Isherwood – another friend of Hockney’s close associates and subjects. During the trip, Hockney marked a return to the camera – a medium he has used extensively as both a visual guide for his paintings and as a means to challenge static and unifocal modes of representation, as in his Photo Collages collection– and painted a large number of watercolours. These media, he argued, allowed him to continue making artworks in short breaks in an otherwise busy travel schedule. Images captured and painted during the trip were compiled in the volume China Diary, compiled in 1982, and co-authored by Spender.