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David Hockney on joy, longing and spring light: ‘I’m teaching the French how to paint Normandy!’

While enjoying an idyllic lockdown in France, the 83-year-old artist has created perhaps his most important exhibition ever – offering hope to an injured world

‘I think it looks terrific,” says David Hockney. “It’s all on one theme, isn’t it? And there’s not many exhibitions like that, really, a show all about the spring.” The 83-year-old artist is taking a look around his new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London for the first time. He seems happy with it – and rightly so, for it is hypnotic and ravishing. But while I am getting a sneak preview in person, Hockney is here only virtually, his face appearing on two screens, one a giant TV, the other a small laptop.

He is at home, at what he calls his “seven dwarves house” in Normandy, wearing a red, black and white check jacket, a checkerboard tie, a blue-green pullover and round, gold-framed glasses. His kaleidoscopic choice of clothing, challenging the very limits of the video call’s bandwidth, is as vibrant and beguiling as the canvases hanging around us. Hockney has not just painted spring; he has come dressed as it.

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