in the pool


In 1978, David Hockney began work on a series entitled Paper Pools, including twenty-nine color pictures created by pressing paper pulp. As Nikos Stangos writes, the project allowed Hockney to bring “together many of the themes he most loves: the paradox of freezing in a still image what is never still—water, the swimming pool, this man-made container of nature, set in nature which it reflects, the play of light on water, the dematerialized diver’s figure under water.” Hockney recalls, “As the time had gone on and the sun wasn’t coming out as much now and the days were cloudy, the water began to look a bit different and the tones were all-over blue. It rained and when it rained the steps started with a deep blue at the top and the blue faded as the water got more opaque because of the rain, and I thought the water looked wetter, it was all wet, now it was all about wetness.” In one Polaroid picture that Hockney used as inspiration for an image entitled “Pool with Cloud Reflections,” the water is nearly indistinguishable from the sky it reflects. The clean-lined shadow of a building amplifies the bright lines of an overhead cloud, making it difficult to know whether the sky is being reflected on the water or, through the trick of glass and shadow, water is being reflected onto the sky. The picture encapsulates what must have drawn Hockney to return, time and time again, to this particular subject: “Depending on the weather, whether it was cloudy or sunny—each day was different—you could look right through it, into it, onto it.”

more from Aisha Sabatini Sloan at Guernica here.