An exquisite study for one of David Hockney’s most significant paintings will travel almost 7,000 miles to go on display in the Walker ArtGallery’s exhibition, David Hockney: Early reflections from 11 October 2013 to 16 March 2014.
The crayon drawing for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures) (1972) exposes the thought processes and working methods behind one of Hockney’s most admired works. Created during a difficult and emotional time for Hockney, as his relationship with Peter Schlesinger broke down, the study is part of an intense period for the artist when his work became a vital outlet.
“For about three months I was painting fourteen, fifteen hours a day. There was nothing else I wanted to do. It was a way of coping with life. It was very lonely; I was incredibly lonely.” (David Hockney by David Hockney, New York, 1977 p. 240)
This poignant drawing has an important role in the Walker’s exhibition which considers Hockney’s early work; his fascination with water and light; the homoeroticism within his work and the emergence of his ground-breaking talent.
John Edwards, a Liverpool-born lawyer in Singapore, offered to loan the work to the Walker after hearing about the gallery’s forthcoming exhibition.
Drawn to the picture’s symbolism, John purchased the study from a dealer in Los Angeles, where Hockney spent many productive years. Like Hockney John had also moved abroad from north England in his early years, although in his case from Liverpool to the Far East, and he recognised Hockney’s fascination with the shimmering light found in a sunnier climate and the sense of independence represented by the swimmer.