David Hockney Breaks Art (Again) with Lightroom

Words by
Sphere Editors

16th January 2023

next month London gains an utterly immersive screen-led boost to its arts scene in the shape of Lightroom, a new multimedia building in Kings Cross. Just don't call it a gallery. For its opening on February 22nd, they've collaborated with David Hockney, whose life-long fascination with the possibilities of new media is given vibrant expression in a show that invites visitors to see the world through his eyes.

Composite polaroid, 27 3/4 x 51 1/4", © David Hockney
Installation of David Hockney’s "Gregory Swimming Los Angeles March 31st 1982"

If we needed a new reason to visit the axis between Coal Drops Yard and Granary Square in Kings Cross, we got a fabulous one anyway, and it’s a multi-media thriller of a space called Lightroom. Designed as a sister venue to the award-winning Bridge Theatre in SE1, Lightroom’s first exhibition David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) follows the now established tradition of London being home to digital multi-media experiences from Abba Voyage to immersive Klimt, Can Gogh and Kahlo.

Photograph by Mark Grimmer
David Hockney viewing the model box containing "August 2021, Landscape with Shadows" Twelve iPad paintings comprising a single work © David Hockney.

The difference with this utterly absorbing work is, like Abba’s mind-bending show, it has been built in close collaboration with its creative source: David Hockney spent three years working on this show, giving it layers of authenticity and creative audaciousness other digital art blockbusters simply can’t match.

Lightroom itself is a four-storey-high digital art space designed for cutting-edge projection and sound work, harnessing the power of the latest technology which features variously on all four walls, the floor and ceiling.

Lightroom launches on January 25th in Kings Cross
David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) © David Hockney

This show uses Lightroom’s technology to takes us into the heart of Hockney’s art, and on a journey of his entire career, as well as sharing new works from the artist. Commentary from Hockney – alongside music composed by Nico Muhly - allows us to simultaneously hear him explain his process, while watching him experiment with perspective, and showing us why only paint can properly convey the hugeness of the Grand Canyon.

Installation of David Hockney’s "A Bigger Grand Canyon" 1998
Oil on 60 canvases, 81 1/2 x 293" overall, © David Hockney, Collection National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

In all, what’s most exciting about this show is it offers an unprecedented opportunity to spend time in the presence of a living and working artist, and it is this element that Lightroom intends to carry through to all future shows it produces.

“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,” says Sir Nicholas Hytner, executive producer of Lightroom. “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."

From Wednesday, February 22. 

Book Tickets

Lightroom:  12 Lewis Cubitt Square, London, N1C 4DY