Why does some art resonate? Musings inspired by the artist Jacob Kramer

For all us based in London the amount of jaw-droppingly incredible art we can access is so vast, it is impossible to take it all in. One of the joys of going to another city is that it actually seems a realistic goal to visit all the art galleries and have no fear of missing out anything. 

Well in theory that is.  

On a recent trip to Leeds I failed to take in all the art, because, just a small amount was enough to make my head hurt, there seems to be a limit to how much I can be wowed in a day. However, being a trooper, I managed to make a good stab of looking around the wonderful Leeds Art Gallery.  

Spoilt for choice
There are so many amazing paintings to take in, that I decided to hone in on just one artist, and pick this one as my favourite. Or at least, my favourite of that visit. 

This artist is Jacob Kramer. Kramer, arguably, has not had the recognition he deserves, although he does feature prominently on the walls of Leeds Gallery. Born in the Ukraine, Kramer (1892-1962), was one of many emigres of the early 20th century who had arrived in Britain from other parts of Europe fleeing conflict and persecution. His art is easy to like, because it is unique, striking, and simply beautiful. As you can see for yourself from the few paintings here. 

Kramer was a big name in Leeds, even if he is not nationally celebrated. After doing his national service from 1917 to 1919, he settled in the city where he became an established artist and taught at the Leeds School of Art. His portrait sitters included Mahatma Gandhi. In 1968 Leeds School of Art was renamed Jacob Kramer College (but since 1993 has been called Leeds College of Art and Design).  

Regroup and recharge
Obviously, one of the highlights of visiting an art gallery is going to the café to regroup, and the Leeds Art Gallery café, the Tiled Hall Café, competes with the restaurant at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum for grandeur. 

With its magnificent arches, huge marble columns and brightly coloured decorative tiles, it is worth a trip to Leeds just to sit in it.  

As I drank my coffee there (decaff of course, my heart couldn’t take any more excitement) I tried to work out exactly why I liked Kramer’s paintings so much. I came up with a few theories, but nothing can really explain why some works of art, or films, or pieces of music, strike a particular chord. It is always so personal.

Just like when you, or someone else, comes up with an idea that you instantly know is brilliant. Where did it come from? Why is it so perfect? How can you make sure you ALWAYS can come up with such fantastic ideas? If you know the answers to these questions, then you must be too busy counting your millions to read this.