Making my way to one of the most anticipated exhibitions of the year I did not know what to expect. Despite being a renowned British painter considered by many as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, the show had received mixed feedback – and not just for its gimmicky title.
Battling through the hordes of people, I made my way into the first room to be greeted by Hockney’s set of four paintings of Three Trees near Thixendale.
Depicting a Yorkshire rural scene in all four seasons, the large scale series was an impressive start, immediately reacquainting the viewer with Hockney’s striking colour palette.
The next room showcases earlier landscapes and pieces from Hockney as a student before he had adopted his own distinctive painting style.
These are alongside later works including the incredibly vivid and personal favourite, A Bigger Grand Canyon.
This majestic grid composed of sixty canvases envelops the viewer, and you can almost feel the warmth emanating from the dramatic shades of orange and magenta which are juxtaposed beautifully alongside calming greens.
A selection of Hockney’s photographic collages is also displayed, including the iconic Pearblossom Highway, one of Hockney’s favoured motifs – roads – clearly illustrated.
Next is a collection of six landscapes focusing again on the main location of the show, Yorkshire. Painted entirely by memory in LA as a tribute to a dying friend, the loud, boldly coloured pieces complement the beautiful subtlety of the watercolour series of the Yorkshire countryside in the next room; which are all painted from direct observation.
The exhibition continues with galleries dedicated to Hockney’s fascination with various natural phenomena such as Hawthorne Blossom, trees and the changing of the seasons. Richly textured charcoal pieces focusing on the Woldgate Woods also offer another insight into Hockney’s surroundings and provide an effective monochrome contrast to the surrounding swathes of colour.
Then came the pieces I had been waiting in trepidation – the iPad pieces. From a distance, they looked like any other painting, albeit with a slightly more subtle colour scheme.
On closer inspection, however, it became clear that they had been digitally produced, their pixelated lines and flat shades apparent. Although in some ways impressive, they lacked a certain authenticity; the grandeur and the spirit of the rest of the work were missing.
Hockney’s attempts to venture into video, however, are slightly more successful.
Having attached several cameras to his jeep, Hockney drove through the rural locations he had painted; displaying the results in his much–loved presentation technique of a grid.
The results are something short of gripping but do provide a tranquil backdrop for a spot of daydreaming.