The same but different – Hockney’s portraits

It’s quite an audacious project: 83 canvases of identical size, each portraying an individual looking at the viewer from the same chair with the same backdrop. If the artist were anyone other than David Hockney, it certainly would have bombed. As it is, while some portraits seem to capture the uniqueness of the sitter, they…

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Artistic duos at RA Summer show

It’s a numbers game, the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition (until 21 Aug). Now in its 248th year, it is the only open submission show in the UK, and the largest in the world. Twelve thousand submissions get whittled down to 1200 entries, two thirds of which are from Joe Public. Last year’s exhibition was a…

Ai WeiWei wows London at Royal Academy

  China may be inclined to lock him up, but London has certainly laid out the red carpet for that thorn in the side of the Chinese government, Ai WeiWei. No matter that some over-zealous British official decided to refuse his visa initially, there has seldom been such a hero’s welcome for any artist. The…

Summer show a riot of colour

The Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition (until 16 August) has drawn crowds for over two centuries and something in the eclectic mix ensures it continues to do so. Twelve thousand public send-ins are reduced to a whopping 1200 pieces that offer something for absolutely everyone. The show is a major fund-raiser for the Academy’s school, and…

Kiefer’s monumental vision

Anselm Kiefer is older in years than either Rembrandt or Turner when they died, but the centuries that divide these artists mean that no-one is talking of ‘late works’ for this 69-year-old German whose powerful vigour is on display in every recent work at the Royal Academy’s retrospective (until 14 Dec). Kiefer is a master…

Monumental survey of Australian art

I remember travelling through Spain with an Australian friend. We’d both look at tall bluegums in the dry countryside and sigh for home. There are many similarities between Australia and South Africa, not only in the wide open spaces and the big skies, but also in a complex historical view of indigenous and colonial cultures.…

Hockney’s celebration of nature at RA

Spring has come early in London. The Royal Academy is ablaze with all the colour and life of a new season; the air is heavy with blossom, leaves form a tunnel and a clearing in the woods takes on a green hue. David Hockney’s A Bigger Picture (until 9 April) is not billed as a…