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David Hockney almost gave up art after assistant's death

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May 25, 2013 | 8:45am EDT

British artist David Hockney was so upset following the sudden death of his assistant earlier this year (13), he considered giving up his work. Dominic Elliott was taken to hospital in March (13) after falling ill at Hockney's home in East Yorkshire, England but medics were unable to save the 23-year-old aide and he was pronounced dead. Hockney's publicist revealed the star was "incredibly upset" and "in a state of shock" following his friend's passing, and now the artist has opened up about the tragedy, revealing he considered giving up on his annual plan to document the seasons. He tells Britain's The Guardian newspaper, "I wanted to make five sets of five drawings as the spring progressed and I finished the first set in January. I was very pleased with them. One was even printed in the Guardian (newspaper). The intention was to go back to them whenever the spring occurred. But then Dominic died. It was an awful time and I was very upset. I thought I might not do it at all this year. I thought I might go back to L.A. for a bit. I didn't quite know what to do. "The spring didn't start until late April this year. I wasn't doing anything much, had nearly given up, and was still thinking about going to L.A. when my assistant, Jean-Pierre, said I didn't really have an option. I had to continue with the work. And he was right. I'm not going to retire. "I just keep working and that's what I think I should do. Of course it's still a very sad situation about Dominic and I'm still very sad myself. But I'm also OK. When you are drawing and working you seem to get outside yourself, and at the moment I think that is a very good thing." An initial autopsy showed "no obvious natural causes" for the death and an inquest has been adjourned until August (13).

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