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Action Week and The Bigger Picture

Fri, 06/04/2012

A last minute ticket and late night visit to the Royal Academy, London and The Bigger Picture by celebrated artist David Hockney. This stunning exhibition of both contemporary and retrospective landscapes, presents a high percentage of paintings inspired by or painted in the Yorkshire countryside where Hockney grew up. He left in the 1960's and remembered it fondly while living in America, where garish colour and hyper real gripped his painting but now lives in Yorkshire again and the colour is converted into pure emotion for the land. The exhibition is overwhelming, with a vast number of works (and punters) gazing out across the grand interlocking rooms of the iconic RA building. Vistas appear through archways and take your breath away, while the scale of many pictures dwarf the madding crowds.

Hockey has spent a lot of time recording spring in Yorkshire and what he calls 'action week' when Hawthorn and other blossom burst out to celebrate seasonal change and the end of dead winter. Hockney's observation of the seasons and the dynamic energy he brings to his later works is tainted with doom - perhaps he is last of many masters who will record this regular seasonal change that has inspired artists for centuries. The lucious colour and exuberance of his paintings is so passionate, intense and deeply moving that I was forced to reflect unexpectedly on the possible long term effects of Climate Change and what that might be doing to recording impressions of our precious planet. This 'bigger picture', beyond our experience or perhaps even comprehension drove through the exhibition with a fierce yet unspoken determination.

During this week in the UK the planets have shone more brightly than usual in the night sky, blossom is 'in action' with drought and unseasonably warm temperatures at one end of the country while heavy snow storms and ice beat at the other. Scientists are predicting new weather patterns of drought followed by flooding in many parts of the world as the result of disturbed weather patterns. Perhaps Hockney's vibrant colour is a sign for things to come or perhaps he is among the last of a dying breed. The paintings cry out for people to pay attention and thankfully, they seem to be doing so. At the risk of sounding trite, art can make us see anew and help touch our hearts and change our minds. Hockney's work is salutary but ultimately leaves me full of hope and inspired to keep taking action.


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