The countdown is on to this week’s unveiling of a new exhibition by artist David Hockney at Belfast’s leading arts venue, the MAC.  

The exhibition, which opens on August 19 and runs until mid-October, will be the first significant presentation of Hockney’s work in Ireland and excitement is mounting in the run up to the launch.

Marking his 80th year, this eagerly anticipated exhibition entitled David Hockney: I draw, I do will focus on the artist’s early work including the famous ‘Paper Pool’ series, alongside work from the current decade, all of which celebrates Hockney’s interest in drawing.

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David Hockney “Self Portrait” 1954 Collage on newsprint 16 1/2 x 11 3/4″ © David Hockney Photo Credit: Richard Schmidt

Hockney is a painter, printmaker, photographer and designer and much like Andy Warhol at the MAC in 2013, this collection marks another first for Belfast.  The MAC presents this Hockney exhibition in advance of the many celebrations that will happen next year.

Hugh Mulholland, senior curator at the MAC, said: “We are delighted to be presenting the first significant exhibition of David Hockney’s work in Ireland to date.  The exhibition focuses on Hockney’s formative years at Bradford Regional College of Art in the 1950s and will include rarely seen anatomical and observational drawings, early graphite portraits as well as significant later works which demonstrate Hockney’s continued interest in pushing the boundaries of his practice using new technologies.

“We are very pleased to be able to show a series of his iPad portraits of family and friends as well as some of his well-known works from The Arrival of Spring, 2011, which many visitors may recognise. At the core of all of this work is Hockney’s commitment to the critical importance of the act of drawing and how the early training at art school is drawn on throughout one’s creative life”.

David Hockney photographed by Jane Bown in London 1966 For Observer Review archive series

David Hockney photographed by Jane Bown in London 1966 For Observer Review archive series

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alderman Brian Kingston applauded the MAC for its role in putting Belfast on the cultural map.

“Belfast City Council is delighted to support the MAC in bringing this world class exhibition to the city ahead of the Tate’s David Hockney retrospective next year,” he said.

“With it, Belfast is demonstrating once again that it’s a contemporary and ambitious city. And thanks to flagship cultural venues like The MAC, our cultural offer can compete with that of major European destinations. We recognise that culture makes a vital contribution to the city, helping to improve quality of life here, drive the economy and make Belfast a shared, welcoming and proud place, and that’s why we invest over £1.4m each year in cultural organisations such as The MAC. I’m looking forward to seeing this exciting exhibition by one of the most popular living British artists being enjoyed by as many Belfast people as possible, as well as our many visitors.”

He added: “Belfast City Council is proud to support The MAC International Ulster Bank Prize 2016 – one of the most significant prizes in the UK, which attracted almost 1,000 submissions from 40 countries. We want everyone in Belfast to experience and be inspired by our city’s diverse and distinctive culture and arts and this exhibition, which will span all three galleries in The MAC, will give people the chance to experience the best in international contemporary visual arts for free, right on their doorsteps. It’s also providing another enticing reason to visit and enjoy Belfast”.

The MAC chose the title of the exhibition from an answer Hockney gave to a question asked of him by designer Paul Smith – “Do you still draw in the more traditional way, in the way you first did when you left the Royal College?”

Yeah, I draw, I do. …From the age of 16 to the age of 20, all I did was really draw, because I was at the art school in Bradford and in Bradford you could be in the school from nine in the morning to nine at night… So I drew for four years. I don’t know what art schools are like now, but I’m told they don’t do drawing. That seems a bit mad to me that.  Drawing is going to be needed in the future.”

The exhibition opens on August 19 at the MAC and is free to visit.  For more, visit themaclive.com

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