David Hockney's animated sunrise lights up Seoul’s evening
Renowned British artist David Hockney, 83, is lighting up Seoul with his animated digital painting of a sunrise. Throughout the month of May, the animated painting that Hockney created on his iPad in Normandy, France, will be screened on the COEX K-pop Square Media, Korea’s biggest high-definition digital billboard in Gangnam, Seoul, operated by CJ Powercast, at 8:21 p.m., every evening.
It is part of an international public art project by CIRCA, a new platform set up by British-Irish artist Josef O'Connor to showcase digital art in public spaces. Hockney’s animated sunrise painting will appear not only in Seoul but also on the iconic billboards of four metropolitan cities such as London’s Piccadilly Lights screen and New York’s Time Square.
In the short animation of 1 minute and 15 seconds, the sun rises from the horizon of a green grassland and gradually spreads its rays portrayed as bright yellow lines. The rays finally cover the whole landscape like a net, whose yellow color and radial shape are reminiscent of Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” paintings. (Hockney said many times the Dutch post-impressionist artist has long been a source of great inspiration for him.) Then, the yellow color fills the whole screen and alphabet letters appear against it to make the sentence “REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT LOOK AT THE SUN OR DEATH FOR VERY LONG.” This is also the title of the work.
The simple but beautiful animation will leave viewers eager to see more. The animation is screened twice without a break but the total screening time is still short at 2 minutes 30 seconds per day. This might be intended to be in accordance with the title of the work and the message of ‘Carpe diem (Seize the Day).’
Hockney was quoted by a press release from CIRCA on Friday as saying “What does the world look like? We have to take time to see its beauty. That’s what I hope my work will encourage people to do when they see it on the large screens.”
“He[Hockney] was really excited about that he can deliver a hopeful message to the world [during the Covid-19 pandemic],” O’Connor said in a video conference with Korean journalists on Saturday afternoon. A year ago, when the panic about the unexpected pandemic was spreading throughout the world, Hockney shared a painting of bright yellow daffodils with the title “Do remember they can’t cancel the spring,” which he drew on an iPad while in lockdown in Normandy, France. Now he is releasing a new book “Spring Cannot Be Cancelled” and will hold a solo show “The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020,” at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, starting in May 23. “Spring is at the core of his art,” O’Connor said. “Even after breaking the boundaries [of art] for eight decades, he can still inspire the world.”
Meanwhile, CIRCA, which O’Connor set up in 2020 during lockdown to bring art to the general public while museums are closed, will invite an artist or a group of artists each month to create a new work to be shown on digital billboards on streets. In August, it will be a Korean according to O’Connor and Barakat Contemporary gallery, which arranges Korean affairs related with CIRCA’s project.
“By pausing ads [on the billboards], in other words, by pausing capitalism, we create space for artists who are eager to say something about society and to show their visions and imaginations about the future,” O’Connor said. About the name “Circa” O’Conner explained, “Our project will be called CIRCA 2021 this year, CIRCA 2022 next year and so on. So, CIRCA means ‘now.’ Good art is the reflection of the world now through the eyes of artists.”
While the screening of Hockney’s animated sunrise painting will start in Seoul, London and Los Angeles at 20:21 in each country’s standard time to remember that now is 2021, the time will be different in New York and Tokyo due to the conditions of the billboards. The video will also be available online via www.circa.art every evening, at 20:21 in British standard time.
BY MOON SO-YOUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]