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David Hockney, ‘Remember that you cannot look at the sun or death for very long’, 2021

In October 2018, Hockney spent a couple of days in Normandy in the coastal town of Honfleur. From there, he went on to Bayeux to take a fresh look at Queen Mathilde’s tapestry and was fascinated by the graphic and narrative strength of this 11th-century masterpiece which reminded him of ancient Chinese scrolls.

Conveying the passage of time through painting has always been a major preoccupation of Hockney, an avid reader of Marcel Proust. The idea germinated in his mind to renew what he had accomplished in his native Yorkshire ten years ago, only this time with the Norman landscape: painting the 'Arrival of Spring' in its unfolding, as if it were a narrative.