Looking and Seeing

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The Week 17 October 2020

Hockney in lockdown

“Lockdown was good for me,” says David Hockney. Holed up in his farmhouse in Normandy, with no visitors to distract him, the artist was able to devote himself entirely to his work, he told Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. He has drawn the fires in his grate, pears ripening in orchards and even droplets of rain on his window. “I don’t think a day has gone by when I haven’t drawn.” Drawing is of fundamental importance. “The teaching of drawing is the teaching of looking,” he explains. “That’s the importance of art. To * remind us to look and to see. Even if you are stuck inside with only one tree outside your window, you can see the leaves happen, you can see the tree grow and change. I mean, lots of people noticed spring this year and they hadn’t looked at it before. They had been too busy to notice. But when they looked at it they enjoyed it.” If art has a purpose, he says, then this is surely it. “Most people don’t really look, they scan the ground in front of them so they can see to walk. But it’s possible to teach people to look. Really look. And it’s a very beautiful world if you really look at it.”