hockney returns to Yorkshire


Hockney’s awakening to the artistic possibilities of the Yorkshire landscape in fact had an earlier and distinct origin – though one which yielded some very different stylistic responses. In the late 1990s, he chose to spend concentrated periods of time in Yorkshire in order to be with his friend Jonathan Silver, who was terminally ill. Driving backwards and forwards cross-country from Bridlington to Wetherby, Hockney began to paint Yorkshire, as Silver had long encouraged him to do. With flattened planes and bold colours these oil paintings make a powerful visual impact, combining elements of naturalistic representation with that same playful element of depicting travel and topography one finds in Hockney’s American road pictures. Some were indeed painted back at his studio in Los Angeles, and all are categorized as different in kind from his recent landscapes: these are painted from imagination and memory, rather than observation. In a way that the later landscape studies are not, these are about place rather than nature, and the viewer is transported into vivid, dreamlike Yorkshires, where all the roads are shades of mauve and the rolling furrows can be searing magenta. The naive view of “The Road across the Wolds” (1997) and the authentically unsettling vertigo of descending from “Garrowby Hill” (1998) delight in pattern and colour, yet they also take the viewer into a simulacrum of a real landscape.

more from Clare Griffiths at the TLS here.