David Hockney is an English painter. He writes to Ruth Mackenzie, artistic director of the Châtelet, he sketches the pillars of a philosophy based on nature, love and comfort. This text is accompanied by an unpublished work by David Hockney.
Somewhere in Normandy, April 15, 2020…
We are currently in Normandy, where we stayed for the first time last year. I always had in mind to organize myself to live here the arrival of Spring. I am confined with Jean-Pierre and Jonathan, and so far everything is going well for us. I’m drawing on my Ipad, a medium faster than paint. I had already used it ten years ago in East Yorkshire, when this tablet came out. Before that, I used an application on my Iphone, Brushes, which I found to be of excellent quality. But the so-called improvements made in 2015 made it too sophisticated, and therefore simply unusable! Since then, a mathematician in Leeds, England, has developed a tailor-made one for me, more practical and thanks to which I can paint quite quickly. For a draughtsman, speed is key, although some drawings can take me four to five hours to complete.
As soon as we discovered Normandy, we fell in love with it, and the desire came to paint and draw the arrival of spring here. There are pear, apple, cherry and plum trees in bloom. And also hawthorn and blackthorn trees.
I immediately started to draw in a Japanese notebook everything around our house, and then the house itself. These creations were exhibited in New York in September 2019. But being a smoker, I have no attraction for New York and have never set foot there.
We came back to Normandy on March 2nd and I started to draw these emaciated trees on my IPad. Since the virus hit, we have been confined. It hasn’t affected me much, but JP and Jonathan, whose family is in Harrogate, are more affected.
Like it or not, we’re here for a while. I have continued to draw these trees, from which more buds and flowers are now sprouting every day. This is where we are today.
I keep sharing these drawings with my friends, who are all delighted with them, and I’m happy to do so. Meanwhile, the virus, which has gone mad and uncontrollable, is spreading. Many people tell me that these drawings offer them a respite from this ordeal.
Why do my drawings feel like a respite in this whirlwind of frightening news? They bear witness to the cycle of life that begins again here with the beginning of spring. I am going to continue this work now that I have realized its importance. My life suits me, I have something to do: painting.
Like idiots, we have lost our connection with nature even though we are fully part of it. All this will end one day. So what lessons will we learn from it? I’m 83 years old, I’m going to die. We die because we’re born. The only things that matter in life are food and love, in that order, and also our little dog Ruby. I sincerely believe that, and for me, the source of art is love. I love life.