Locked in France, the British artist David Hockney sits in the garden of his Norman house drawing the blooming of spring. Cherry and other fruit trees, hawthorn and blackthorn, all feature in his works, created on his iPad.
Today, Hockney, 82, is the inspiration for a contest to encourage young and old alike to create an image that captures the season and cheer up coronavirus blockers.
The idea of Hope in Spring: drawing like Hockney came from another Briton abroad, Ruth Mackenzie, artistic director of the Châtelet theater in Paris, former director of the Scottish Opera and the Nottingham Playhouse as well as the Festival of the Olympic Games of London 2012.
After receiving a letter from Hockney, who was sending works to his friends, Mackenzie suggested a link to the contest.
“I asked David if he would consider doing something for the locked out French people who need a touch of solidarity and he very generously sent us one of his works exclusively and shared nine with us and accepted to make this brilliant competition to inspire and generate joy. Said Mackenzie.
“It seemed like a great idea to share his fantastic spirit of optimism, hope and color. I hope this will inspire people around the world. “
The theater is organizing the competition with France Inter radio and the Center Pompidou in Paris, which organized a large Hockney retrospective in 2017.
Another British artist, Grayson Perry, has helped people get through the lockdown with his show Channel 4 Grayson’s Art Club in which he creates works and talks to guests. He also invited members of the public to send in their lock art.
Hockney was isolated with his dog Ruby and his long-time assistants, JP (Jean-Pierre Gonçalves de Lima) and Jonathan (Wilkinson). In his letter to Mackenzie, accompanied by a photo of some daffodils titled Remember, they can’t cancel spring, Hockney wrote:
“We came back to Normandy on March 2 and I started to draw these emaciated trees on my iPad. Since the virus struck, we have been locked up.
“A lot [people] tell me that these drawings offer a respite during this testing period… they testify to the life cycle that begins here with the birth of spring… Idiots that we are, we have lost our connection with nature even if we are part of it completely . It will all end one day. What lessons will we learn?
“I’m 82, I’m going to die. We die because we were born. The only things that matter in life are food and love, in that order, and also our little dog Ruby. I really believe it , and for me, the basis of art is love. I love life. “
The Châtelet, like all French theaters, has been closed since March 17, the date on which the lockdown began and does not know when it will reopen. However, it organizes cultural events online and via its Tchat magazine!
Mackenzie added, “The role of culture in these difficult times is to unite around our shared emotions and give us hope for the world to come.” This is what David is doing with this exceptional gift. His letter is so clear about death and he says things that we all need to understand.
“He is very much respected and loved in France and rightly so, but it is not always the case with English artists.”
Hockney moved to Normandy last year saying he was drawn to the landscape which offered a wider range of flowers, with apple, cherry, pear and plum trees as well as hawthorn and blackthorn than he painted in the past.
In an interview with the Guardian last month, Hockney urged people to draw during the lockdown. “I would suggest that they really look at something and think about what they really see,” he said.
The registration deadline is June 21 and 10 winning drawings will be selected from the three partner organizations of the event: the Châtelet theater, France Inter radio and the Pompidou Center and exhibited.