I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a real artist, that I haven’t studied art and that I only started painting with any kind of seriousness or drive in January 2011. But what I didn’t realise is that I haven’t even seen much art, in the flesh, especially not famous, “important” art.
So earlier this long Easter weekend, a friend on Twitter said to me that I should go to see the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy; “You should a) go and see the Hockney exhibition and/or b) read the accompanying book “A Bigger Picture”. Trees; ever-bigger images.”
And I talked it over with Rob and went today.
It turns out, right, that I have a strong emotional response to art.
Surrounded by people who clearly already knew who Hockney was (some English bloke, was about all I knew, with a thing about acrylics, maybe? colour? something like that) and who were able to make sensible-sounding remarks on shade, series, development of themes, etc, I staggered -
Actually, no, wait. First I figured out where the exhibition was and then almost had a panic attack because I felt like a fraud going to a real exhibition by a real artist, and had to phone home to be calmed down. I walked around the block and went in and started queuing.
Then, less than an hour later, I bought my ticket – still feeling pretty fraudulent – and went in.
The people. There were about six billion of them, almost all standing in front of me. But I wiggled through and got away from the first room, and then I could see paintings.
And I staggered around grinning, moving far too quickly from one work to the next, trying to eat it all up as fast as I could like a chocolate Easter egg before breakfast, and quickly reached a stage of sensory overload so strong that I stood in a roped-off doorway and took slow breaths and wiped my ridiculously weeping eyes, and then I went back and stood in a room where the pictures weren’t quite so brainmeltingly absolutely my sort of thing and came down from my high, and then I went back to the beginning again and walked through, again far faster than I think one is supposed to, and I reached the end, which was brilliant but much much calmer, and then I went back and started again, and eventually, though in real life less than two hours after I went in, I left the exhibition and bought the book and some postcards, and then I left the building and realised I couldn’t possibly meet the people I had arranged to call in on (luckily not at a specific time), and made an emergency phonecall to get some small-child time, and after tea and toddler-play, I felt human enough to come home, and it was great.
Paintings and small children. That’s me, apparently.
(My only regret is that my own children won’t see the exhibition. But they can’t have everything, and I’m glad I saw it alone.)