Bilbao

I definitely had to write about BILBAO!! Whilst there I visited the amazing: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. There are only 5 Guggenheim’s in the world, Berlin, New York, Venice, Bilbao and Abu Dhabi. The building was truly amazing modern architecture, it’s celebrating it’s 15th anniversary currently and you can see its massive impact on the modern architecture of the city. I loved that whilst walking around the city on the same street there was a beautiful old building of flats and then the next one along would be a modern burst of glass and geometric shapes. In the Guggenheim I was overwhelmed by David Hockney’s major exhibition; A Bigger Picture. An entire floor dedicated to his most recent work where I was very excited to see work fresh from the artists studio. There was over 200 pieces in the collection and as I followed the work, I could see the progression in his methods.

Hockney emphasized the difficulty he has found with the photograph being more apparent and there being less and less need for the medium of paint. I watched a video of him discussing this dilemma. He expressed a view that we are a generation who see the world through a lens. He believes as the exhibition title suggests there is a “bigger picture” there is more to see than the rectangle of photograph we see. In his earlier work from the 90’s he tries to capture an entire space in his paintings, both in his paintings of the Grand Canyon and his photo collages from the 80’s, he captures various viewpoints to create this image. He photographed many images of the Grand Canyon and then painted each photo, placing them together as one, to create an extensive viewpoint. In the painting as a whole we can see the outline of each photo almost like a pencil line in a grid form. At first I disliked the visible lines but reflecting back I see that it emphasizes the process in which the artist has gone through; which I enjoy.

This same process has continued into his most recent work of the East Yorkshire landscape, where he has returned to the setting of his childhood to produce work. Returning to the place he grew up is something I admire greatly, Hockney’s work seemed to intertwine both the art works of George Shaw and Andreas Gursky; two of my most admired artists. It has a Gursky quality in his aspiration to create an impossible viewpoint and in returning to East Yorkshire, Hockney is painting what he knows like Shaw. The lack of human presence his also something I noted down as a similarity to Shaw, Hockney like Shaw likes to give us the indication of human life; for example the chopped wood on the road, it implies the human presence somewhere. I felt most attached to the entitled work; “The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire in 2011.” Hockney says he envisions the large amount of paintings/ipad sketches as one installation. He sees the work as a whole and as I walked into the space I was greeted with one huge painting surrounded by many of the ipad sketches that have been used to create the central image. In the guide we were reminded of Hockney’s previous work; designing sets for opera, this work acts like that; we are centre stage. What I also really enjoyed in this piece was the use of bright colours that had been used in the images. There were purple trees and bright orange logs, Hockney said that this use of colour had been placed in due to him working from memory in his LA studio. Working from memory had removed him from the reality and he let his imagination take over. The bright colours he used reminded me of the work I was producing earlier this year with Paul Crook as my inspiration.

What was most intriguing was Hockney’s use of the iPad. An iPad is something I would normally have looked down on to produce art work. A famous artist should use a big fancy camera? But Hockney has utilised and embraced technology. He says that he is able to quickly sketch, use any colour he wants to draw and to use as a background. He commented on the ease and usefulness of being able to quickly sketch due to the constant change of weather on the landscape. It was amazing to see these quick sketches blown up and placed up in an exhibition setting. You can hardly tell the difference. I admire Hockney for embracing technology the way he does. I need to get out there whilst in the Lakes take many photographs of the landscape and take in the bigger picture.

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