Immersive David Hockney exhibition offers an intimate look at artist's 60-year career

British artist David Hockney posing in two of his immersive art installations at London's Lightroom.
British artist David Hockney posing in two of his immersive art installations at London's Lightroom.   -  Copyright  Courtesy: Lightroom / Justin Sutcliffe
By Anca Ulea

What would it be like to see the world through the eyes of one of our greatest living artists?

A new exhibition opening in London this Wednesday offers a glimpse into the mind of David Hockney, through an immersive journey across the British artist’s 60-year long career.

Exploration of perspective and experimentation with new media have been defining features of Hockney’s work – so it seems fitting that the retrospective is created using the latest digital projection and audio technology in London’s newest art space, Lightroom.

“David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)” is Lightroom’s inaugural exhibition, as the four-storey space in King’s Cross opens its doors to the public.

Hockney’s voice guides visitors through six distinctive chapters, revealing the process behind some of his most beloved works and inviting everyone to take a closer look at the world around them.

"The world is very very beautiful if you look at it, but most people don't look very much,” he narrates. “They scan the ground in front of them so they can walk, they don't really look at things incredibly well, with an intensity. I do."

Courtesy: Lightroom / © David Hockney
A visualisation David Hockney’s installation "A Bigger Grand Canyon" 1998 at Lightroom.Courtesy: Lightroom / © David Hockney
Courtesy: Lightroom / © David Hockney
A visualisation of David Hockney's installation "Gregory Swimming Los Angeles March 31st 1982" at Lightroom.Courtesy: Lightroom / © David Hockney

The resulting exhibition is an intimate guide to Hockney’s insatiable curiosity about pretty much everything around him, and his obsessive quest to capture what he sees through his body of work.

It looks at the artist’s many lives from LA to Yorkshire to Normandy – from his polaroid collages exploring movement and time to his days as a stage designer for theatre and opera.

Visitors are plunged into Hockney’s studies of swimming pools and immersed in his monumental 1998 painting of the Grand Canyon, which he deemed “unphotographable”.

“It’s about the only place on earth that makes you look in every direction,” he said of painting the landscape. “You feel small. And the longer you look, the more thrilling it becomes.”

The exhibition also features Hockney’s iPad paintings chronicling the seasons outside his cottage in Normandy, where the 85 year old has been living and creating since 2018.

Hockney worked closely with Lightroom’s creators over three years to put together the show, which also features an original score by US classical composer Nico Muhly.

Courtesy: Lightroom/Mark Grimmer
British artist David Hockney viewing a model box containing his work "August 2021, Landscape with Shadows" Twelve iPad paintings comprising a single work.Courtesy: Lightroom/Mark Grimmer

"What's so exciting about this show is how authentically Hockney it is,” executive producer and co-founder of Lightroom Nicholas Hytner said in a statement. “Listening to his voice in this astonishing new space while seeing his artworks unfurl around the four walls is going to be both an experience and an education. It suggests how potent this medium will be for the other creators and artists with whom we will make new and original Lightroom shows in the years to come."

Lightroom is a joint venture between 59 Productions, a design studio and production company, and London Theatre Company, which was also co-founded by Hytner. It was created as a sister space to the award-winning Bridge theatre.

“David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)” will be open to the public at Lightroom from February 22 through to June 4. You can book your tickets here.