"New Perspectives on Yorkshire Countryside"
by Fiona Baile for remotegoat on 18/01/12

One of the reasons Hockney is rated so highly, apart from his obvious talent, is that he is always exploring new territory, he is constantly trying out new ideas and experimenting. Photomontage is an example of his quest to find new things to say and there are a few of his Arizona and the Grand Canyon pictures from 1986 in amongst paintings of this part of America. There are also some very early canvases of 1956 which are of interest for showing his development

On one wall twenty-four images are displayed close together. At right angles on another wall are thirty-six slightly smaller pictures, each one showing similar views at different time of the year mostly summer and autumn. Then on another wall is winter with bleak views of skeletal trees and grey countryside. These come after the well-known paintings of California and some other Yorkshire paintings which are depicted in a riot of colour.

All around he has used the device of putting panels alongside each other to make huge images, sometimes it will be merely two panels, at others it will be over thirty. Sometimes the panels make a composite image, at others they almost merge but not quite, so that a tree trunk will be wider in the lower panel than in the one directly above it, the lines don't quite meet up but it doesn't matter because the composition and treatment of subject still work.

Always one to use technology where it will serve his purpose, Hockey has taken to using an iPad to paint directly on to the screen and there is a small gallery with a selection of the iPad images to give an idea of the way he has achieved this.

Tunnels are in Gallery 5 and show a particular cart track which gets grown over with hedgerow in the summer. There are many images of this track which the Artist has followed through the seasons. In Gallery 7 are exuberant landscapes with hawthorn blossom: more of the Yorkshire lanes with views which many would regard as unremarkable, and yet here making one want to view the countryside again.

Gallery 8 shows the picture which has been used for the publicity shots for this show and I was completely unprepared for the intensity of colour pulsating from the original painting. A pink and grey lane is bordered by yellow and orange logs, felled trees waiting for transport. On each side, are bright blue trees, stark against a blue and pink winter sky, and in the foreground a carpet of purple leaves. No reproductions do justice to, or prepare one for, the vibrancy of colour in Hockney's canvases.

Gallery 13 has some of the most recent paintings of Yosemite done in October 2011, and showing mist and low clouds over the mountains and cascades of water down the mountainsides. Gallery 10 is a complete departure from the rest of the show with paintings inspired by The Sermon on the Mount by Claude Lorrain and depicting the figures in a very impressionistic way.

This is outstandingly important and a must-see exhibition.

Event venues and times
finished Royal Academy of Arts | Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BD

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