"I may seem to be passionately concerned with the 'hows' of representation, how you actually represent rather than 'what' or 'why'. But to me this is inevitable. The 'how' has a great effect on what we see. To say that 'what we see' is more important than 'how we see it' is to think that 'how' has been settled and fixed. When you realize this is not the case, you realize that 'how' often affects 'what' we see." (David Hockney, That's the Way I See It, London, 1993, p. 128).
Hockney's Antheriums, a classic still life of flowers upon a table, challenges the traditional concerns of representation. Hockney realistically represents the flowers, their vase, and the surrounding environment, yet his use of the bold colors and few shadows flatten the pictorial space. The shape of the flowers, which arch away from the vase, is the main device that the artist uses to imply three-dimentionality. Through this "removal of distance" as Hockney has called it, the viewer is allowed to feel closer to the picture -enveloped within the artist's manufactured environment. The hand-painted artist's frame accentuates the blurred relationship between the painting and the wall upon which it hangs. Once "inside" Hockney's picture, the rich colors, cerulean blue and cadmium red among others emerge as the true subjects of the composition, as well as their complex interrelationships with one another. The flowers are merely a means for his exploration -the "what" that enables his exploration of "how."
The "hows" of Hockney's representation are inextricably linked to his work in various media, particularly printmaking and photography, and his interest in their individual methods of picture-making and stylization. At the core of Hockney's creative process is a fascination with visual magic. Moreover, Hockney is a great believer in the pleasures of art, and pleasurable art, the inherent challenges of art theory notwithstanding. Antheriums offers the viewer an intimate visual experience, a shared experience or moment with the artist himself. In Hockney's view, to share an experience is to affirm one's humanity, and the joy of discovering the unexpected.