Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bigger Trees Near Warter

I went to one of the more unusual art exhibitions today, David Hockney's Bigger Trees Near Warter, at York Art Gallery. It's stupendous.

There is only one exhibit on display, but what an exhibit. It's enormous. Think of the largest painting you've ever seen - The Night Watch, say - and quadruple it. It's a painting of a stand of trees in late winter/early spring, and it's more or less life size. Yes, really.

It's composed of fifty separate canvases, which Hockney painted en plein air over a period of six weeks. Technically, it's astonishing. It is remarkable how he managed to keep control of the painting, even allowing for the fact he kept track of the total work by photographing each canvas as he worked on them.

Warter, of course, is very close to where I live, and what made the exhibition even more special was that to get to York we drove through the same landscape at more or less the same time of year as the painting is set. We passed a number of stands of trees just like it.

The painting is on display in York now, and then moves to the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, where I shall go to see it again. It'll then return to its home at the Tate Gallery.

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