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Wuxi 35-9

Wuxi 35-9
Signed Print

David Hockney

Photographic print, 1981
Signed Print
H 15cm x W 20cm

Critical Review

Produced in 1981, this signed print by venerated British artist David Hockney depicts British writer and poet Stephen Spender, a friend of Hockney’s and one of the artist’s travel companions on a lengthy tour of China, made in the same year. Joined by Hockney’s onetime partner and curator Gregory Evans, the trip saw Hockney gravitate towards making artworks with both his camera and watercolours. Despite his love for the medium, Hockney had often derided the camera – and the photograph – dubbing them ‘lazy’ media that failed to adequately translate a sense of time. An increased reliance on photographs, however, was simply to save valuable time – a precious commodity on an extremely busy journey across a vast country. Commenting on his travels in China, Hockney once remarked, ‘There was hardly a time when you had half an hour to sit around; so I realised I had to devise a method of drawing quickly or from memory. I started drawing from memory more and more’. This print’s title references the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi, located around 84 miles from Shanghai. Featuring two porcelain figurines, it places Hockney’s own art – in this case, a photographic translation of his field of vision – alongside Chinese material culture, from which he learnt a lot. During the trip Hockney picked up on an important piece of wisdom which has stayed with him throughout his career: ‘You need three things for paintings: the hand, the eye, and the heart. Two won’t do’.

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