Growing (1986) is a signed print on Arches rag paper demonstrating David Hockney's fascination with the technology of photocopying. Two flowers on each side of the print are inclined downwards, their position suggesting the process of withering to have already begun. Looking from the left side, each flower appears more erect than the former, the gradual evolution culminating in the middle, where the most centrally positioned flower stands completely upward. The remaining two flowers on the right side are again bended and proportionally smaller. As such, Hockney’s composition is simple but symbolically potent. If looking from left to the right, the arrangement of flowers appears to epitomise the very process of growing referred to in the title, turning the commonplace subject matter of the print into a symbol of ephemerality.
In this print, the artist moves away from the tradition of naturalist representations of still life and depicts a vase of flowers in an overly simplified, childlike manner. With their abundant corollas resting on jarringly thick stems, the flowers appear far too large in proportion to the vase. Their heavy appearance contrasts with a wide range of drawings and paintings, in which Hockney brings out the subtlety of the floral subject matter. The work was executed on an office copy machine and belongs to Home Made Prints, a series of thematically diverse works, including Celia With Chair (1986) and Man Reading Stendhal (1986). The artist has said in the context of photocopying that inspired Home Made Prints: “In fact, this is the closest I’ve ever come in printing to what it’s like to paint: I can put something down, evaluate it, alter it, revise it, all in a matter of seconds.”