Lightroom: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away)

David Hockney: Bigger & Closer (not smaller & further away) is a triumphant debut for Lightroom, who have firmly placed themselves on the map as a must-visit cultural spot. The impressive technology involved and the prime location of the gallery space lends itself to blockbuster shows such as this, With long exhibition stretches visitors will surely want to catch each subsequent show, having been won over by this exhibition and seeing what this tech designed by 59 Productions in collaboration with Haworth Tompkins and London Theatre Company is capable of. 

The show is made up of six ‘chapters’ on Hockney’s work - from his painted LA pools to his photo montages. These chapters don’t follow a chronology, which was a perfect move on the part of writer and director Mark Grimmer because it means that visitors can arrive at any point during the show’s cycle and not feel like they’ve missed anything. Not being constrained to a chronological arc means the connections made between chapters are much more innovative.

The score composed by Nico Muhly was beautiful and when paired with Hockney’s deep blue night scenes and vibrant forests I audibly exhaled from calm satisfaction. There was something deeply meditative about certain points in the show and soundtrack. Sadly, the selection of songs used during the chapter exploring Hockney’s operatic set designs (which I thought was a visually very strong moment in the exhibition) lacked variety. Almost all pieces were intense and heavy, making some visitors visibly stressed. This was a shame given the wonderful experience we had all just shared relaxing into Hockney’s huge iPad woodland. The soundtrack was at times simply too loud and a scene in which the artist drives up a mountain with Wagner building to its crescendo was particularly taxing.

This show worked well because of the wealth of documentary materials, voice recordings and narration available from Hockney himself. This added a wonderful level of detail to the show and gave it a depth beyond simply being a phenomenon. I did wonder who would be the next soloist in Lightroom’s calendar as Hockney did seem like the absolute ideal candidate.

Because so much amazing content was incorporated from the artist’s studio, it meant that when images were included that weren’t by Hockney, such as an unrolling Chinese scroll or Renaissance painting demonstrating Hockney’s approach to perspective, there was a distinct visual clash. I believe the show would have been made more harmonious had these external elements been redrawn digitally in Hockney’s style.

I wish we had been given more time with standout pieces, which flew off the walls quickly. Similarly, Hockney’s stained glass window at Westminster Abbey was projected without voiceover narrative and felt flung in despite being a very beautiful projection. 

Overall, this was a beautiful show and I can’t wait to see what Lightroom puts on next. I highly suggest booking to see Bigger & Closer before it closes on June 4th. You can also explore works by Hockney on our marketplace.


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