David Hockney at The Royal Academy

David Hockney at the Royal Academy

I was was very excited to see 82 portraits and one still-life, the current David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Portraiture has played a major role in the British artist’s long career and is a genre which continues to fascinate him. He painted the first portraits of what was to become a vast body of work of some 90 paintings in 2013; 82 of which can be seen snaking the walls of the Sackler Wing of the RA. Each painting shares the same dimensions and is painted on acrylic on canvas, with the subject seated in the same chair in the artist’s LA studio, illuminated by the Southern Californian clear light of day. Each painting took around three days to produce and on the one occasion where a sitter failed to turn up Hockney painted some pieces of fruit that were sat on a table in his studio – the one still-life of the pack. Hockney’s exhibition makes a statement on the current era of the ‘selfie’ and reaffirms the significance of the painted portrait. ‘Celebrities are made for photography,’ he says. ‘I don’t do celebrities, photography does celebrities. My friends are my celebrities.’

David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and One Still-life. Until 2 October