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Photographic print, 1983
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Celine Fraser, Acquisition Coordinator
Gregory And Shinro On The Train, Japan is a photographic print from 1983 created by David Hockney as part of a series of photo collages that explore the dynamics of seeing. Referred to as ‘joiners’, the collages are based on photographs taken with a Pentax or Nikon camera that were subsequently developed and printed at the local one-hour processing shops. This print captures Gregory Evans, Hockney’s lifelong friend and lover, as he looks at suburban Tokyo through the window of a train.
The dense accumulation of images makes it impossible to single out one central element of the collage. Three shots of Gregory’s face are placed next to one another, allowing the viewer to trace subtle changes of his facial expression over time. Hockney would speak of his collages as ones in which space is an illusion as opposed to time. According to the artist, ‘‘time is accounted for in the number of pictures. You know it took time to take them, wait for them, put them down.’’ Hockney’s composition is conceptually complex in that it captures a passage of time through the illusion of movement created with the use of static images. If scanned quickly up and down, the image of the city on the left side of the collage seems to evolve, corresponding with the real-life experience of looking out the train window.
The photographs used in the collage were taken in quick succession and only subtle details in facial expression and gestures of Gregory and Shrino make it clear that Hockney did not multiply one and the same photograph to create the composition. In effect, the series of pictures is linked to an ongoing sense of movement, challenging the conventional way of experiencing a static image.