Most of Hockney’s works are little fragments of his daily life frozen on the screen as if they could just as effortlessly have been snapped with the device’s built-in camera and forgotten in an album full of looking-down-at-your-shoes photos. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful or that they don’t require some semblance of an artistic eye—vibrant flowers in vases and picturesque scenes of books and berries are portrayed in bright, colourful still-lifes rendered with the various blurry brush strokes from the Brushes app available on any iPhone, iPad or other iThing.
Hockney says the quickness of drawing with your fingertips (or a stylus) on Brushes allows your thoughts and feelings to stream more quickly onto the canvas (read: backlit glass screen) than working with, say, a pen or paintbrush on a sketchbook page. The instant nature of digital art actually makes it easier to convey the artist’s ideas. Sometimes Hockney even gets so absorbed that he absent-mindedly wipes off his fingertips to remove the non-existent paint. What’s more, all the artist’s fingertips can be used to draw five lines at once, which would be pretty tough to do with a paintbrush (this technique isn’t usually fruitful). The iPads, though made for touching, will still be hung as art, so this ROM showing will not be easy for grabby technophiles to digest.