Back to his roots: Hockney landscapes adorn Van Gogh Museum

AMSTERDAM (AP) – A new exhibition at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum highlights the influences of the tormented Dutch master on the later landscape works of one of the world’s greatest living artists, David Hockney.

The exhibition “Hockney – Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature” opens on Friday and runs through May 26. It features both artists’ landscapes, juxtaposing paintings and drawings by the 19th Century Dutchman with Hockney works ranging from small charcoal sketches and water colours to giant, wall-filling paintings, videos and iPad drawings.

“I’ve always found the world quite beautiful, looking at it, Just looking,” Hockney said in the exhibition’s catalogue. “And that’s an important thing I share with Vincent van Gogh: We both really, really enjoy looking at the world.”

Curator Edwin Becker compares Hockney’s return from Los Angeles to the northern English county of Yorkshire to Van Gogh’s move from Paris to southern France, saying their relocations helped both artists reconnect with nature.

Van Gogh found beauty in the landscapes of France – from freshly harvested fields to trees ablaze with blossom – even if the darkness of some paintings also betray the mental anguish he could not escape.

Hockney, after a long and productive period living and working in LA, returned to his roots and started closely studying the landscapes around him.

“In the fields and woods of East Yorkshire, he rediscovered again the seasons, the variety of colour tones and tonalities, the subtle play of light and the ever-changing weather conditions,” Becker said.

While the show demonstrates that Hockney has been influenced by many artists – such as Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and Meindert Hobbema – the similarities between Van Gogh and Hockney can be striking.

The pink and blue brush strokes that make up the swirling sky in Hockney’s 2009 painting, “May Blossom on the Roman Road,” echo Van Gogh, even the Dutchman’s dark and brooding “Wheatfield with Crows.”

“If we look at Hockney’s landscape pictures, sketches, drawings, watercolours, oils we feel the heartbeat of Van Gogh,” Becker said.

Employees of the Van Gogh Museum make adjustments to David Hockney’s ‘The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate’ prior to an exhibit in Amsterdam. – AP