Hockney met Gregory Evans in London through the Los Angeles art dealer Nicholas Wilder. They began an intimate relationship in Paris in 1974, when both lived on the left bank of the Seine. Over time, Gregory’s role evolved from lover and studio assistant to curator and trusted adviser, but he has remained a close friend and consistent model for nearly fifty years.
Gregory’s portraits chart the trajectory of Hockney’s practice, from quick sketches in pen and ink to more detailed renderings in pencil. In the mid-1960s, Hockney started using a technical pen called a Rapidograph, which maintains a constant line width. Over the next decade, he finessed the technique in a series of figure studies characterized by an economical, unbroken line. Working quickly, with intense concentration, he was able to create the impression of a moment frozen in time. In the pencil drawings, by contrast, he varied the thickness and type of line to convey subtleties of form, texture, and tone.