hockney at the r.a. 24-01-2012

i really wanted to like this. i love hockney's early drawings, etchings and paintings. i love his photographs. I love his writing about photography and i am indebted forever to his book on the uses of lenses and mirrors in art which completely changed the way i look at many paintings. i love his eagerness, his breadth, his hunger for experiment, even his avuncular curmudgeonliness. but the works here are bland and facile, sunday-painterly in places. in many places, actually. precisely how and why is highlighted by a small gallery of earlier handscapes works. adrian searle, writing in the guardian was right in saying that the mark-marking in the new pictures is monotonous and dauby (i quote from memory). and the ipad drawings / paintings seem a logical extension of this new work because even the paintings have a flatness of surface which looks not greatly different in reproduction. but the mark-marking in the early landscapes is varied and energetic and the surfaces, consequently, much more alive. in fact, the exhibition reminded me that it is the mark-making which has always been the best thing about his pictures. look at the early ecthings - the brothers grimm, a rake's progress - and you'll see that he can draw as well as picasso when the wind is in the right direction. the sheer zest of his early royal college paintings (a vew of switzerland and rocky mountains with tired indians - i may have got the titles wrong; it's the only exhibition i've gone to in a long time for which i haven't wanted to buy the catalogue). even the mullholland drive pictures where different sections are all painted using different techniques. this section also contains three photographic joiners, two of the grand canyon and pearlblossom highway which were, for me, the best things in the exhibition.

i was going to paste an image here. then i clicked onto david hockney's 'authorised' website, the front page of which insists that you tick a box to confirm that you agree to the statement: this site and contents are copyright david hockney and may not be reproduced anywhere at any time in any form, which must be the sourest, least generous and most unwelcome welcome to a multi-millionaire's website i have ever seen.

so here's a picture of a fantastic self portrait by marlene dumas (het kwaad is banaal, evil is banal, 1984) which is better than everything in the hockney exhibition put together.