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David Hockney: Bigger Trees Near Warter

Works by some of the most famous names in the world of art are coming to Yorkshire this year as part of a compelling programme of exhibitions and events. Art in Yorkshire- supported by Tate, will see works by iconic artists such as David Hockney, Henry Moore and Dame Barbara Hepworth featured in exhibitions taking place in 19 urban and rural galleries across the county. Not to mention The Hepworth Wakefield will be opening this May!

To launch this initiative, David Hockney’s Bigger Trees Near Warter or/ou Peinture Sur Le Motif Pour Le Nouvel Age Post-Photograpique 2007 is on display in York Art Gallery. Measuring 12m by 4.5m, and made up of 50 smaller canvasses of a landcape near the East Yorkshire village of Warter, the work is the largest painting David Hockney has ever created. Significantly, this is the first time the work has been shown outside of London which seems wholly appropriate considering the subject is the Yorkshire landscape, a view supported by Nick Serota, Director of the Tate.

Hockney’s painting was originally exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibtion, before the artist presented it to the Tate. The painting is made up of fifty panels joined together to form a whole, with Hockney using a combination of traditional techniques and new technology to create the piece. Taking six weeks to complete, with Hockney painting each individual canvas en plein air the method of composition harks back to the work of the Impressionists.

Taking a scene just before the arrival of spring when the trees are coming into leaf, the work overwhelms the viewer with the monumental beauty of the landscape. In the shallow foreground space a copse of tall trees and some early daffodils stand on slightly raised ground. An imposing sycamore is the composition’s central focus. Another, denser copse, painted in pinkish tones, is visible in the background. A road to the extreme left and two building to the right of the composition offer signs of human habitation. The work is not only extensive, but intricate- depicting the stark pattern created by the tree’s overlapping branches, which are clearly delineated against the winter sky.

Whilst this piece is hugely ambitious by itself- its placement in the York Art Gallery also draws attention to the strength of Yorkshire’s art collections in their own right. At the official launch, the support for this initiative was clear and well-placed. This is a fantastic work, in a spectacular location.

Whilst the Hockney will certainly be the biggest work on display this year, there is plenty more to see if you’re in the York area; Sphere of Accuracies: Zone of Truth opens on the 5 March at Bar Lane Studios is a group exhibition exploring art, science and neurality whilst Danielle O’Connor Akiyami at Bohemia Galleries blends her interest in Japanese brush painting with an impressionist style. Quilt Art, an international group of 20 textile artists, at the Quilt Museum and Art Gallery celebrates its 25th anniversary with an exhibition that demonstrates its diversity of inspiration, artistic and technical skills. Sticking with contemporary makers, The New School House Gallery presents a major solo exhibition of new work by award-winning ceramicist Louisa Taylor displayed alongside a selection of pieces from the Yorkshire Museum that inspired her. If all that art makes you hungry then what better to refresh the mind than Afternoon Tea at Bettys.

The show at York Art Gallery continues until June 12 2011 when it will then travel to the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull from June 25- September 18 and then at Cartwright Hall in Bradford from October 1 to December 18. For more information please visit www.yorkartgallery.org.uk

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