July 9th, 2012
I can recall the first time i stepped off the boat in Bilbao. I was struck by how cool it was, and that was in June.
And Bilbao is certainly a cool location. But there is so much to see. And people often use Bilbao simply as a point of arrival or departure.
So if you go there today, and have no more than a couple of hours to spend in the city, what should you see?
Well how about a piece of Yorkshire?
David Hockney is in the city. Not in person right now. But the exhibition of his works is on show at the world famous Guggenheim museum. ‘The Bigger Picture’ exhibition has been a well attended one in locations such as London and is now on display in Bilbao until the end of September. I suggest you get there if you can.
Rent in the city or stay in the neighbouring location of San Sebastian. They each have their charms.
In Bilbao the Guggenheim museum is the perfect place for an exhibition of the works of David Hockney, a man I have had the privilege to film with several times in his native Yorkshire. And the Guggenheim celebrates its fifteenth birthday this year. As i often remark, time flies in Spain.
Two hundred examples of Hockney’s work from the past six years are on show as are some of his best known paintings, drawings and photographs from across four decades.
Also on display, the most recent paintings of his native East Yorkshire. The series of paintings celebrate Woldgate Woods, the Three Trees Near Thixendale, Winter Timber and Hawthorne Blossom.
Hockney returned to live in Yorkshire in the 1990′s when he grew tired of life in London. He says this exhibition is him paying tribute to his roots and the Yorkshire countryside he loves so much.
His work is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you cannot deny his sustained talent that has been evident since the 1950′s.
When travelling Spain i have sometimes come across the right exhibition in the wrong building. I think Hockney and the Guggenheim are a perfect mix. They are made for each other. And i never tire of this city and that well photographed Jeff Koon puppy outside the museum that remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Spain.
I recall the first time i saw the Guggenheim museum. I was initially not over impressed with my first view of the building described by architect Philip Johnson as “the greatest building of our time”. In short the Guggenheim museum did not take my breath away.
It has grown on me but i think “the greatest building” tag is over the top. I wouldn’t call it ugly, but nor would i call it aesthetically pleasing. I may well be in a minority of one with that opinion.
One guidebook told me that the building is “sensual”. I beg to differ. I tried to love the exterior but; frankly, I believe it to be one of those buildings that looks better on television and in movies. The camera loves it.
So why not find some good angles to take photographs of the place? Alongside the river perhaps. Or there are plenty of bridges from which you can snap away until you get the entire structure in the frame.
If you have any spare time, do try to stop off for some beautiful snacks, or pintxos, in one of the many atmospheric bars in the city. To come to this city and not try the food would be a big mistake.
Bilbao is a very wealthy city. You would have to pay an awful lot of money to buy a home with a view of the Guggenheim museum. The city is in the top three of the most expensive cities in which to buy property.
But then, if you can afford a property there, you can probably afford to decorate it with a piece of work by the living legend who is David Hockney.
* The exhibition runs until September 30th.