Hockney immersive takes plunge into artist’s creative process

Hockney immersive takes plunge into artist’s creative process

Hockney immersive takes plunge into artist’s creative process

David Hockney’s first immersive show opened to the public in London on Feb. 22, offering a hypnotic, multi-sensory journey through the artist’s decades-long career, from sun-drenched California swimming pools to the Normandy countryside.

“The world is a very very beautiful if you look at it. Most people don’t look,” says Hockney in his commentary which runs through the show, along with archive recordings.

Now aged 85 and still painting, Hockney fully embraced the immersive concept, said Richard Slaney, chief executive of London’s new Lightroom venue which co-developed the show with the artist.

“He’s always been an innovator. He’s always been pushing the boundaries of things,” he told AFP.

The exhibit grew out of an email Slaney sent Hockney back in 2019 suggesting a collaboration.

“Maybe we thought we’d get some interviews and a little bit of time. In fact we’ve been back and forth to his house in Normandy over the past three years... and he’s been in the room with us for the last three months every day,” he said.

The 50-minute show uses virtual reality with immersive audio and visual techniques.

Held in a single large space, the 360-degree projections feature some of his best known works as well as other rarely seen ones.

“I am a person who likes to draw... I like looking at things,” says Hockney during the show.

“That’s my job, I think, making pictures,” he said, adding that in his mid-eighties he still enjoyed it “enormously”.

The exhibit is divided up into six themed chapters delving into his creative processes and accompanied by a musical score by American composer Nico Muhly.

‘Loves to create’

Hockney, who was born in Yorkshire in northern Britain in 1937, established himself as a major figure in the pop art movement, particularly his 1967 “A Bigger Splash”, capturing the moment after someone has dived into a swimming pool.

“Sun I think drew me to Los Angeles... I just had a hunch that it was a place that I’d like,” he recalls in a section dedicated to his California period.

“I just went there, I didn’t know a soul there and I thought it was two times better than I imagined.”

“As you fly into LA you see all these swimming pools. I start looking at them and I noticed patterns that the water makes,” he added.

Other sections focus on his landscapes in northern Britain’s East Yorkshire and also Normandy, in northern France, where he spent the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

Slaney said Hockney’s dedication to his art and “mantra about loving life” had been infectious.

“He’s very funny... very dry. But he’s also so dedicated. He works crazy hours every day... He’s 85 (and) he just loves to create, loves to make work”,” he said.

“David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)” at London’s Lightroom runs until June 4.