The Sun would seem to represent most of what David Hockney has painted. He has been called the ‘golden boy’ of British Pop art, his hair is blonde, he designed for the theatre and his face shines through with dramatic goggle glasses, constantly looking at the world to see the broader canvas, especially using acrylics capturing patterns of light playing on water in swimming pools in Los Angeles. There is a luminous quality to his paintings such as ‘A Bigger Splash’ (1967). Yet with all that points towards a Leo sun sign, he was born a Cancer sun sign, on July 9th 1937, and returned each Christmas for 30 years to where his mother lived in Bridlington, Yorkshire even while he lived in LA. He never lost his Yorkshire accent despite travelling the globe as a celebrated artist. Something about his home and humble working-class origins stuck has remained with him.
Noticeable in his chart is a mutual reception: the moon which rules Cancer is in Leo, and the Sun which rules Leo is in Cancer. So the light is balanced by the shade as they reach out to each other and rescue their counterpart from the worst. The tight conjunction of the Sun with Mercury made him the spokesperson of a generation, a pride in his own opinions above all others, and a preference for talking not listening, and in fact in his later years he has become so deaf he prefers silence and avoids noise and crowds. Yet he plods on, working with a sense of purpose beyond the norm, as native of the Chinese Ox year, becoming increasingly prolific as he ages, and all this is combined with all the intuition, sensuousness and sensitivity that a sun in Cancer confers to an artist. He said ‘we always see with memory’ which is so very Cancerian, as it loves to go back in time even as far as the womb. He wanted to add ‘time’ to the space as he felt time was often the missing factor in static paintings.
In the retrospective at the Royal Academy ( 2012) he increased the size and scale of the paintings taking over all the available gallery spaces. The point of having gigantic paintings was to bring about a difference of perception to ‘the bigger picture’. Jupiter is that bigger picture planet, and it opposes his Sun, as part of a wedge to Mars, exaggerating his capacity to render the scale of what we see in a different way. This is to capture the experience of where the viewer ends and the viewed begins. In 2012, no one expected that he would become the new Constable, and English landscape painter, and render the lesser seen fields and trees of Bridlington, Yorkshire, into works of some merit that took hours and hours of hard looking- and looking differently.
He spent years pondering how to represent space in a way like the Chinese which is to bring you ‘inside’ the space as if you are walking through it- the experiential viewpoint which is dynamic and not at all the point of view fixed at eye level as presented to us by Brunelleschi in the Renaissance. This could be the trine of Uranus to Neptune lending that mark of originality although many might say his work is derivative -mostly from Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh, but he refashioned it his own way.
At the Grand Canyon he attempted to capture the hugeness of the experience rather than just what the eye sees in a static way. So while without a birth time it is not possible to say with certainty, there is something Cardinal here. If the angles were at zero degrees, aside from marking the ingress of the sun, this speaks directly to his pure beginner’s mind – which according to Buddhists means wiping the slate clean of preconceptions and starting afresh- which he has done throughout his career. He has also done that typical Cancer crab-like approach zig-zag and nimble – coming from unexpected angles, jumping from Pop art, to portraits, to etchings, to set design, dipping in to photography and always coming back to painting. But, he often goes back to square one and obliges us to see as he does from a blank slate with a baby’s eye purity of vision. He often manages to bring viewers with him and allow them to see what he sees which can be enlightening. He did it when he rediscovered the Polaroid and created photo-montages, piling up viewpoints to add dynamism to the viewer. He did when he mounted 9 cameras to a jeep and recording multiple viewpoints at a road junction. He did it again when he noticed the device of convex mirrors in the work of the great masters, a trick of using a piece of glass they mostly kept a guarded secret. But also quite natural for a Cancer native to dig into history in order to rewrite it. And typical that he accumulated large hard-backed photo albums that go way back until the sixties.
Hockney’s Jupiter is conjunct Pallas Athene- at 24/25 degrees Capricorn and while that position for Jupiter is not so great, Pallas Athene confers strategy and wisdom. He even does look owlish and the owl is the symbol of Minerva a.k.a. Pallas Athene, with those big glasses, and his impish grin. And he is the cheeky chappy who has said of the advantages of being deaf is that “well people talk a lot of crap, don’t they?”
He has been a campaigner for tobacco and has always loved smoking – especially Turkish cigarettes- so doesn’t mind being the contrarian with a sun sextile Uranus. He was influenced by at different periods, Picasso and Van Gogh, and Matisse, so not really a modern Pop Artist so much as a renaissance man, sucking in influences from all over the place, and pursuing his art in a methodical yet exploratory way that tends to produce great that are appreciated as great although some critics say his portraiture is not good. But he largely does not care what people think and says doing art brings a joy beyond words.
Hard graft comes naturally to him with that Saturn on the Descendant perhaps makes him look for teachers in everything and everyone he sees. The Sun trine Mars would give capacity for work and he can apparently stand for up to six hours painting. While he was dubbed by the press as the party boy, he never gave the parties he attended, and said “I am actually a worker. An Artist can approve of hedonism, but he can’t be a hedonist himself.” With Mars and Aries ruling the Descendant of what partners he looked for, he found Peter Schlesinger (an Aries) who was an art student in class at UCLA LA and brought him to London. Hockney’s asteroid Eros resides in Aries, so quick and brusque might be the style he prefers. He was ten years younger than Hockney, and it is Schlesinger who is became the muse for many of his paintings. One wonders which of them was the real baby – as Schlesinger developed his own career as a photographer and sculptor. Hockney’s less famous long-term partner of almost 24 years, is in fact a chef, John Fitzherbert.
One sticky incident a few months after his stroke was that his young assistant Dominic Elliot had an accidental death while on his premises which was the old house Hockney had bought for his mother in Bridlington. Elliot swallowed drain cleaner while high on ecstasy, cocaine and alcohol, and the result was fatal. The chart of this moment highlights alignment with the cosmic story: the concentration of planets in Pisces, a sign often associated with drugs, loss and addiction, and in the chart of the moment March 17th, 2013, there is hardly any air element, which might indicate lack of good judgement. Pluto is moving close to the Ascendant and squares Uranus. The Moon is also square to Jupiter and Neptune is triple conjunct Mercury and Chiron in Pisces in the first house. Rumours swirled around about whether Dominic was gay, though his friends claimed he was straight, but he was having a relationship with Hockney’s partner, Fitzherbert and the newspapers made a meal of it. But one suggestion was that it was Annie Leibowitz’s fault as she had decided not to include him in a celebrity shoot of staff working for Hockney just days before, and Dominic was upset about that. But no one can explain why he did it.
The Sun in the 10th makes Hockney a very visible artist possibly the most well- known living English artist. He is a master of his craft and of many skills contributing to his art: photography, montage, etching, paint, acrylics, drawing, and theatre set designs. And now this include I-Pad finger sketches he sends to his friends every morning. He has been prolific and his star seems to shine brighter the older he gets, and as for people born under the sign of the moon being able to attract money easily, Hockney has never been short of it. His painting ‘Portrait of an artist (pool with two figures)’ (1972) received a bid of £70 million in 2018, the highest amount paid to a living artist.
©Proteus Astrology, July 2019
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