David Hockney's celebration of eccentricity

Yesterday I went to the David Hockney 'Current' exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria. I don't often go to these blockbuster events but I had a free afternoon in Melbourne and I was interested in going to the gallery, as I had not been there for so many years. 

I found it unexpectedly entertaining, a bit like the Grayson Perry exhibition I visited at the MCA in Sydney at the beginning of the year. It has something to do with the quality of eccentricity, which is often associated with the British. It's strange that eccentricity thrives in a culture that is also known for being mannered and repressed, the opposite end of the scale from the spontaneity of the Latin cultures. 

On the one hand, I don't warm to his vocal advocacy of smokers' rights, which he mentions in interviews and features in quite a number of his whimsical works. It seems like the railing against political correctness that you get from Senator David Leyonhjelm or from the opinion and letter writers in The Australian newspaper. At the same time, he is determined to push the boundaries of his medium, in terms of both aesthetic theory and in using the iPad or a video camera for most of his recent works.

What I found particularly fascinating was his rejection of the 'single-point perspective' in the creation of images, in favour of his own way of doing what amounts to 3D. Increasingly, a single image doesn't do the job for him. He has quite a number of stitched together composite works, some of which are displayed using banks of video monitors. Others are stitched together photographic prints. Initially you think that the stitching together is done poorly, but then you realise that it's intentional and purposeful.

That is his serious work, though there is a playfulness in it. I also enjoyed the whimsy and humour in the large number of paintings and iPad slide shows. He also provides something of a role model for those of us who are growing old in that he doesn't seem to care what the rest of the world thinks of him.