Jumat, 27 Januari 2012

Shockingly Hockney

Yesterday I ran into my friend Sven in Mayfair. We hadn't seen each other in years. The Swedish art dealer had been living in London for the past three years and judging from his size and paintings of the walls business was booming for his gallery. Over a cup of tea we spoke about old times and cleared up why a deal in Florida had ended in failure. The executors of the estate had hogswaggled us with deception. Sven had lost a major client and two of my good friends don't answer my phone calls."They'll get over it." Sven had been in the art world for ages."Yeah." My metier was diamonds. What we say we will do, we will do. "Me too.""Did you lose any money?" He had flown a client from Hong Kong to see a sculpture in Florida. The client had four-star tastes. The hotel room service bill ran into the thousands. "No.""Then it was merely a waste of time.""You got that right." I had a long fuse, but when lit it stayed lit at a low simmer. I changed the subject and mentioned a desire to view the David Hockney's THE BIGGER PICTURE."Really?" Sven explained that he belonged to Royal Art Academy. It was a five minute walk from his gallery. "Would you care to go?""Certainly." Several London friends had mentioned that tickets were a hot sell and going with Sven was a freebie. We threw on our coats and walked through the heavy foot traffic on Picadilly. Sven smoked two cigarettes on the way and, as we entered the cobble-stoned courtyard, he said, "I was here for the opening. I counted twelve celebrities. I came out for a cigarette and ran into the artist.""Hockney?" "He was dying for a cigarette. We spoke for several minutes and he said that he didn't trust anyone who didn't smoke.""My grandfather said, "Never trust anyone who puts ketchup on his hot dog."" He came from Maine. People from that state trusted in tradition."Hot dogs." Sven had lived a long time in America. "They are so evil.""But great at a baseball game with a cold beer." I was a devoted Red Sox fan. Fenway Franks are manna to the faithful, although I would take a bullet to the head before I brought a Bud Lite to my lips. "Disgusting." Sven shivered with disgust and stubbed out his cigarette, as we threaded the spaces between three tightly packed queues of ticket-seekers. Sven flashed his membership card and a security person opened the ropes for the friend's entrance. A young blonde girl handed us two tickets and we strolled into the exhibition with a guide book or headset explaining the works."You know this won't take long." I explained how in the early 80s that the bartender from the Studio of Rue du Temple and I toured the Louvre in less than fifteen minutes. Tony came up with the idea that the painting should be looking at us. "He thought that we could absorb the art through osmosis like molecules moving through fluids. We kept our heads down and if one of us looked at a painting, then he would have to pay for dinner. We ended our visits at the Mona Lisa.""And you'd looked at her." Sven knew the museums of Europe inside and out. Research was his forte."No, we'd turn our heads to the left to admire l'Hermaphordite and then caress its cold marble skin."Sven shook his head. Art existed on a higher plane than our mortal lives. A guard punched our tickets and we joined the horde of Hockney admirers. His work surrounded us. Sven said that there were over 150 tableaus dedicated to the change of season in his birthplace. The vibrant colors stolen from a harlequin clown's suit were strangers to Yorkshire, unless its famed pudding was made from Jello. Sven further informed me, "These aren't even paintings. He did them with an iPad. Take a look. There are no brush strokes. These are prints. He can make millions of them."We strode through the exhibition. I stopped at the Grand Canyon works. They looked nothing like the real thing, but captured the breath of the desert chasm. A row of purple logs portrayed a demented judge of color and Woldgate Woods evoked the need to light a fire in autumn. Wefinished the exhibition in less than ten minutes. I could have spent hours. We shucked the crowd inside the academy and stepped outside into the crisp evening air. Sven lit a cigarette and I wondered how he survived trans-oceanic plane flights. I looked back at the thickening lines before the entrance. "Back in the 60s and 70s no one went to museums. That was the only way we could walk through the Louvre that fast." I reflected back on the empty galleries. The dust devils on the wooden floors were the size of rats. The air smelled of the ancien regime. Those days were long gone and I shrugged off the years. The Worseley was across the street."Let's go get a beer.""I don't drink beer." Sven puffed on his nail."And I don't put ketchup on hot dogs."Like I said it was a tradition.http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/hockney/

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