Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Biggest Splash

Seeing David Hockney's A Bigger Splash in real life is like the opposite of seeing Dalí's Persistence of Memory or the Mona Lisa: It's overwhelmingly big.

David Hockney, A Bigger Splash (1967). Courtesy of the Tate

The painting currently hangs in Tate Modern's "A Bigger Splash - Painting after Performance" exhibition, wetting you when you enter. With 2,5m x 2.5m, you can't step back enough to make it look like a postcard. The real splash is bigger, and it's in your face. 

On closer inspection, the brushstroke of the main splash is also surprisingly rough. Together with the naked edge of the canvas and the assymetry of the painted square (see the upper right and lower left borders sagging) the piece manages to balance and contradict its Californian smoothness. 

And speaking of surprises, a projector adjacent to the painting shows scenes from the 1973 semi-fictionalised documentary A Bigger Splash. Naked boys jump into a pool on loop, making huge you-know-whats. 

From A Bigger Splash (1973) by Jack Hazan

Check out 2:33-2:38 for a sample, and ponder. 


Other discoveries from the show soon. 

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