Robert Tanitch goes to the Royal Academy of Arts, London
All the portraits share the same dimensions and are painted in acrylic on canvas over three sessions and a total of six hours. The subjects sit in the same yellow-cushioned wooden chair to the same vivid blue background and same floor.
The exhibition, a single project, takes its impact from the uniformity of the 82 portraits. With the exception of Barry Humphries, there are no celebrities. They are Hockney’s friends, family, acquaintances.
The same format makes the viewer aware of much more than faces. Some paintings are much better than others. Two sitters look as if they would prefer to be elsewhere.
It is the clothes the person wears and above all the way they choose to sit in the chair which is so revealing of character.
One sitter buries his head in his hands. Another leans forward. A third throws his leg over the arms of a chair. A grown-up little boy resembles Hockney.
Psychologically, the exhibition is fascinating in a light-hearted, gently humorous, colourful (very colourful) and fun (not too deep) sort of way and the Sackler Gallery is perfect for it.