Immersive David Hockney Exhibit Opens in London

"Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)" is up through June 4

David Hockney exhibit
Visitors attend the 'David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) immersive exhibition at the Lightroom gallery in London on February 22, 2023.
DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images

The great band Television Personalities once sang about being in David Hockney’s diaries — but what about being in one of David Hockney’s paintings? That’s “in” in the sense of literally being immersed in one of the artists’s canvases, by the way. And while that might have only been in the realm of the conceptual once, a new show in London has taken it from speculation to reality.

The show, titled David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away), is on display now at London’s Lightroom, and is a collaboration between artist and space. Hockney isn’t the only prominent name involved — composer Nico Muhly is responsible for the soundtrack to the exhibit, which includes narration from Hockney focusing on his artistic process and inspiration.

A New York Times article about the exhibition details how Hockney worked with the design company 59 Productions to get the space up and running. It includes a fascinating image of a scale replica of the show, created so that Hockney could follow its progress from home and make suggestions as needed.

Hockney told the Times that he hoped that artists might draw inspiration from the show — or, as he phrased it, that they “might see in this technology the possibilities for new dramas.”

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Writing in The Observer, Laura Cumming had encouraging things to say about the show. “Unlike the immersive Van Gogh or Kahlo experiences — to which this is enormously superior — Hockney is present throughout as a disembodied voice giving what amounts to a 360° lantern-lecture,” Cumming wrote.

Admirers of Hockney’s work have some time to see the show. It’ll be up at the Lightroom through June 4.

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