David Hockney: I lost two-thirds of my American friends to AIDS

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Artist David Hockney has spoken movingly about losing so many of his friends to AIDS at the height of the epidemic in America.

A documentary revealing the sadness behind his public image as a witty optimist will be premiered today at the BFI London Film Festival, the London Evening Standard reports.

Called Hockney, it explores his life from his youth in working-class Bradford to his studies in London and periods in California and New York.

Archive footage shows the artist recalling the deaths of two-thirds of his American friends. “You think about them every day and then you stop it,” he says.

“Because there’s too many actually, and it would rather drive you mad if you think about it. And slowly you have to realise that it’s kind of become part of your life.”

And in a more recent interview he says New York would be different today had not so many died: “It would be bohemia still. That’s the world I arrived in, that’s the world I lived in actually.”

Hockney also talks about how his severe deafness has cut him off from his passion for music.