WHAT’S big, bold and beautiful and made mainly in Yorkshire?
Answer: David Hockney’s landscape exhibition, A Bigger Picture, currently showing at London’s Royal Academy.
The Bradford-born artist has been panned for his vivid and vibrant new work by some London-based critics and his old Bradford art teacher.
I have no idea if his paintings represent the pinnacle of artistic achievement, but if the idea of art is to create something physically beautiful while provoking thought and debate, then Mr Hockney’s work is a resounding success.
To my mind, the non-paying critics are out of step with the fee-paying public, most of whom seemed as impressed as we were after shelling out £15 last Saturday.
Mr Hockney created a name for himself in the pop art culture of the late 1960s and later with his photomontages before going a bit quiet. He’s well known for his long connection with Salt Mills at Saltaire.
Then, seven years ago, he rediscovered the landscapes of his youth – East Yorkshire in particular – and journeys he made as a boy through the Wolds to Bridlington.
Since then he has been driven by a passion and energy which belies his 74 years to paint nature in Yorkshire in all her glory.
The drab greys and brown of the (to a native of West Yorkshire) boringly flat East Yorks have been transformed into gigantic dynamic works of brilliant purples, oranges, greens and blues, more reminiscent of Gaugin’s Tahiti than the Wolds’ Tibthorpe.
His three dozen paintings drawn on an Ipad, each blown up and printed on several square yards of paper, have to be seen believed. The man is a genius.
Perhaps the lurid colours can be explained by the fact that Mr Hockney suffers from synesthesia. This is a little-known neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to involuntary experiences in another.
One can only presume that he had Beethoven’s Fifth or Ibiza Anthems Volume XIV blaring out in the background of his Bridlington studio as he painted his masterpieces.
However he did them, they make you proud to be from Yorkshire – whatever the London critics say.