This publication accompanies the Damien Hirst 'Two Weeks One Summer' exhibition at White Cube Gallery, May 2012.
Painting has always been an important part of Hirst's oeuvre, but unlike the spot paintings and photorealist series which were made using a collaborative studio process, this body of work is altogether more personal: painted from life, by Hirst in his Devon studio.
The paintings, often intimate in size, could be seen as traditional still life, depicting an array of carefully arranged elements, both natural and inanimate, sometimes momento mori, alongside objects and formal devices that have made their appearance in Hirst’s sculptures and installations before. Exquisitely coloured birds on display stands or in simple glass boxes, butterflies, fruit and cherry blossom at the peak of its beauty, intimate the pure joy of spring’s transition into summer but also the temporal significance of this natural phenomenon.
Next to these bucolic objects, more sinister symbols take their place: oversized scissors, a shark’s gaping jawbone, bell jars and even several lonely single or conjoined foetuses floating in jars, elements that are displaced from the laboratory table rather than the domestic one. Some objects are painted with clarity and impasto; others appear hazy and faint, as if they are somehow more insubstantial, part of a sudden apparition or dream-like vision.
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He first came to public attention in 1988 when he conceived and curated ‘Freeze’, an exhibition of his own work and that of his contemporaries at Goldsmiths college, staged in a disused London warehouse. Since this time Hirst has become widely recognised as one of the most influential artists of his generation.
Through a varied practise of installation, sculpture, painting and drawing Hirst has sought to explore the complex relationship between art, life and death. Alongside over 80 solo exhibitions he has worked on numerous curatorial projects. In 2008, Hirst took the unprecedented step of bypassing gallery involvement in selling 244 new works at a Sotheby’s, London auction entitled ‘Beautiful Inside My Head Forever’.
Hirst was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995 and his contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades has been acknowledged in a major solo retrospective exhibited at Tate Modern, London. He lives in Devon and has studios in Gloucester and London.
Text © Damien Hirst & Science Ltd., All rights reserved, 2012