“Each film is so full of fresh, revealing, gorgeous material that I never for a second get bored.” Phil Grabsky, EXHIBITION ON SCREEN: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts

By Dirk Vanduffel - Wednesday, December 6, 2017
“Each film is so full of fresh, revealing, gorgeous material that I never for a second get bored.”  Phil Grabsky, EXHIBITION ON SCREEN: David Hockney at the Royal Academy of Arts

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN bring the work of David Hockney to life with their latest film David Hockney At the Royal Academy of Arts: A Bigger Picture 2012 and 82 Portraits And One Still Life 2016. Directed by Phil Grabsky, the film offers a wealth of interview material with the artist, shedding light on his lifestyle, method and inspirations. The film arrives in cinemas worldwide from November 21st, 2017. Artdependence caught up with Phil Grabsky to find out more about what prompted him to put this exhibition together, and what it was like to film with one of the UK’s most renowned living artists.

EXHIBITION ON SCREEN bring the work of David Hockney to life with their latest film David Hockney At the Royal Academy of Arts: A Bigger Picture 2012 and 82 Portraits And One Still Life 2016. Directed by Phil Grabsky, the film offers a wealth of interview material with the artist, shedding light on his lifestyle, method and inspirations. The film arrives in cinemas worldwide from November 21st, 2017.

Artdependence caught up with Phil Grabsky to find out more about what prompted him to put this exhibition together, and what it was like to film with one of the UK’s most renowned living artists.

Artdependence Magazine: Did you make this documentary out of personal interest in the work of David Hockney?

Phil Grabsky: We’ve made many, many films now – each one about a fantastically interesting artist or artistic period, or indeed institution. In this instance we focused on a 21st century master – whose work I have always admired: David Hockney. I love finding out about both those artists I know well and those I know less well. We look a long way ahead to see what exhibitions are coming up around the world, plus galleries now call us to tell us what they are planning – and we make a choice. Each season we release 5 films. And each film is so full of fresh, revealing, gorgeous material that I never for a second get bored. Our audiences around the world also play a role. They email us or contact us through our Facebook & other social media sites and give us ideas of who they’d like to see featured too.

AD: How difficult was it getting this done? Did you get easy access to David Hockney?

PG: The production of the film was a challenge. Spread out over five years, it was something of a gamble and of course working with a living artist throws up different challenges to those when one is working with an artist from further back in history. But with the challenges comes one great advantage – you actually get to hear the artist talk. David Hockney is unquestionably one of the most articulate and affable artists you could hope to interview and I thank him and his team for allowing us the time to do just that. We have spent twenty years building relationships with galleries and that level of trust is extremely important. Galleries simply can’t let filmmakers in who might not respect the art properly or who don’t do their research properly. The Royal Academy of Arts itself, in this case, is one of my favourite galleries anywhere in the world and constantly puts on some of the best exhibitions you could hope to see. I have filmed there many times and love it.

AD: Did you focus only on the work of David Hockney, or also on his personal life?

PG: Over the past five years David Hockney has staged two blockbuster exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. They drew in excess of 750,000 visitors. We filmed both of those exhibitions as part of an attempt to explore the later work of this undoubtedly great artist. This is not a retrospective film – trying to cover (as we do in so many of our films) his entire biography. I decided to just focus on the creativity and output during these two most recent shows, to show what this artist, now in his 9th decade, has produced and why.

AD: What is the most striking thing you learned from David Hockney whilst making this documentary?

PG: You are never too old to engage in new technologies – though new technology needs to be at the service of the image you want to convey - it’s available to help enable you to explore. Art on an iPad can be simply fantastic in the hands of a great artist.

AD: You focus on two exhibitions of David Hockney at the RA. One in 2012 and one in 2016. Do you see a difference when you compare 2012 and 2016?

PG: The noticeable difference would be that despite David Hockney’s highly successful 2012 exhibition, Hockney doesn’t stick to the same style of exhibition for 2016. Instead, he does something completely different to surprise the audience. No one could have predicted that his next exhibition would be based inside and focusing on portraiture. It’s the unpredictability of Hockney that contributes to his greatness.

AD: What is the next project you are working on?

PG: We are in post-production for our next EXHIBITION ON SCREEN film: Cézanne - Portraits of a Life, which is based on an exhibition of Cézanne portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, and National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Cézanne - Portraits of a Life will be in cinemas worldwide from 23rd January 2018. We are also in production for series 6. Keep an eye on our website www.exhibitiononscreen.com and our social pages @exhibitiononscreen for the latest news!

AD: Where will this movie be shown? Is it available on DVD?

PG: We are screening in almost 60 countries worldwide and in over 1000 cinemas. We screen in the leading chains as well as your local independent cinema. Screening information can be found on our website. The film will be released on DVD in early 2018.

Dirk defines the overall policy of Artdependence Magazine, in addition to conducting interviews. He specializes in valuation and auctioning.

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Image of the day

 Geng Jianyi (1962–2017). The Second State, 1987. 130*196cm Painting, Oil on canvas. Courtesy: ShanghArt Gallery

Geng Jianyi (1962–2017). The Second State, 1987. 130*196cm Painting, Oil on canvas. Courtesy: ShanghArt Gallery

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About Artdependence

Artdependence is an international online magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art as well as modern and classical art. The magazine features interviews with artists, curators, fair directors/organizers, collectors, people who are interested in art and connected with the art world. Artdependence Magazine also runs a series of articles and reviews on recent events and publications. 

Artdependence is based in Belgium.

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