Sunday, July 14, 2024

Russel Tovey’s Life Is Excellent is about a great gay artist you never heard of

Watch the just-released trailer for the new documentary Life Is Excellent, from British actor, curator and art enthusiast Russell Tovey (host of TalkArt, American Horror Story, HBO’s Looking) on his journey to understand one of his greatest art heroes, David Robilliard, who died aged 36 of AIDS in 1988.

It comes as WePresent, the arts platform of WeTransfer, has revealed its newest guest curatorship with Russell Tovey, the British actor, author, curator and co-host of the popular art podcast TalkArt. Tovey is WePresent’s third guest curator, following successful year-long collaborations with artists Marina Abramović and Solange Knowles.

Through this partnership, Tovey and WePresent aim to bring attention to the original works while examining their resonance today. Together, they will bring these stories to new audiences worldwide through a multimedia and cross-disciplinary approach that connects art, film and theater performance with new media and interactive design. 

Tovey is a life-long art enthusiast, collaborated with WePresent on three projects releasing this summer, each sharing culturally significant narratives from the LGBTQIA+ community, as told through art. Throughout the curatorship, particular focus is placed on the works of Derek Jarman and David Robilliard — both trailblazing British queer artists who died of AIDS, and of whom Tovey considers himself a student. 

An editor’s letter from Tovey, wherein he explains the personal impetus behind this collaboration, is available now on WePresent in audio and written format. 

“Since our collaboration began, WeTransfer is allowing me to fully realize projects that have been bouncing around in my head for ages,” says Tovey. “With detail, care and a very unique nurturing approach to every project, I am able to tell stories about artists who mean so much to me, in the hope that they can matter to everyone. The platform reaches millions internationally every day, so it’s an incredible privilege to be sharing my deepest passions through WeTransfer with new audiences around the world.”

The guest curatorships are an embodiment of WeTransfer’s ongoing support of the arts. Since its founding in 2009, WeTransfer has donated up to 30% of its advertising space to support artists and social causes. In 2021, WeTransfer launched The Supporting Act Foundation, committing 1% of revenue each year to support the next generation of creatives. 

The three projects, to be released in the coming months, are:

Life Is Excellent

“Life Is Excellent” follows Tovey as he explores the life and work of one of his greatest art heroes, the artist David Robilliard, who died aged 36 of AIDS in 1988. Although they had never met, Tovey considers Robilliard a formative, omnipresent figure in his life – a source of strength, companionship, and constant inspiration. On this highly personal journey, Tovey pieces together his idol through those who knew him most intimately and, in the process, helps paint a new vision of Robilliard for a global audience to meet. The official trailer for “Life Is Excellent” is unveiled today, with the full documentary planned for release this summer.


“BLUE NOW” is a tribute to the artwork “Blue” by the British artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman. The 1993 film features an unchanging screen of Yves Klein blue accompanied by voices which deliver a collage of fragments from Jarman’s diary, a visualization of the gradual onset of blindness as he battles with HIV. “Blue” was Jarman’s final feature film, completed only months before his death of AIDS-related complications. 

Artist series

Tovey will select a range of artists he admires to feature in bespoke WePresent feature content. Each artist will be given real estate to showcase their work on to its 80 million monthly active users in 190 countries and on WeTransfer social channels.

About Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey is an award-winning British actor with an extensive background in film, television and theater. He is also a passionate art collector and co-hosts art podcast, “Talk Art”, with friend and gallerist Robert Diament, in which they interview leading artists, curators, gallerists, and celebrities. Their first book “Talk Art: Everything You Wanted To Ask About Contemporary Art But Were Afraid To Ask” has been listed as one of The Sunday Times’s Top Ten Bestsellers, and their second book will be released soon. In 2023, Russell was announced as the WePresent Guest Curator, working with them on two film projects about Derek Jarman and David Robilliard, respectively. 

About WePresent

WePresent is WeTransfer’s arts platform, acting as the company’s cultural torchbearer to a monthly audience of approximately 3 million in 190 countries. Collaborating with emerging young talent to renowned artists such as Marina Abramović, Riz Ahmed, FKA twigs or David Sedaris, WePresent showcases the best in art, photography, film, music, literature and more, championing diversity in everything it does. The platform’s commissions range from editorial features to films, illustrations, photography series, events, and exhibitions, with an aim to offer a fresh take on the magic and mystery of creative ideas. WePresent were the commissioners and Executive Producers of the acclaimed short film “The Long Goodbye” by actor and musician Riz Ahmed and director Aneil Karia, which won an Oscar in 2022 for Best Live Action Short Film.

About WeTransfer

WeTransfer streamlines the workflow process for millions of creative professionals. Its ecosystem of creative productivity tools makes it easy to collaborate, share and deliver work. WeTransfer has more than 80 million monthly active users in 190 countries. As a certified B Corporation™, WeTransfer has long been a champion of using business as a force for good. Since its founding in 2009, WeTransfer has donated up to 30% of its advertising space to support artists and social causes. Last year, WeTransfer also launched its Supporting Act Foundation to support emerging creative talent through arts education, grants, and an annual prize.

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