David Hockney, RA, 2002
Tempera and gouache on linen paper
43 ½ x 45 ½ in.
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Known for his off-beat, deeply insightful portraits, Adam Birtwistle is one of the most singular artists working today. His pictures reject the flattering conventions of eighteenth-century Grand Manner portraiture, in which the sitter was portrayed full-length, nearly filling the composition, often against a background of character-elevating details such as the corner of a library or a view into a manicured landscape. Instead, Birtwistle’s sitters are shown from the waist or chest up, their arms and lower body cut off by the bottom edge of the canvas, and dwarfed by an expansive, empty monochrome background. Such is the case in this somber portrayal of the modern artist David Hockney. Perhaps as a gesture of respect for his fellow painter, Birtwistle departs from his usual format by prominently showing Hockney’s creative hand upraised and holding a drafting pencil.
Beadleston Gallery, New York
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