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Impressions of Kiev

September 24, 2009 by Ellie

Thanks to Shaun Davin for sending us his thoughts on Damien's recent exhibition, Requiem, at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev:

St michaels Monastery with requeim poster

Before I got there I tried to do some research but I was limited to what little information I could find on the net as there were no books in any bookshops in Dublin. Nevertheless, I was hell bent on getting over there to see Damien’s show so I ploughed ahead and booked flights and accommodation, going in blind. No expectations good or bad!

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One could say it was a case of the 'agony and the ecstasy' if you’ll excuse my analogy. I found an enormous sense of pride among the new generation of Kievians. Young men and women going about their daily business dressed to kill (literally) -  the women are stunning and they walk like supermodels on a catwalk, shiny new skyscrapers are beginning to sprout and there was a buzz around the exhibition which I haven’t seen before. It’s a generation excited by contemporary art. Some will like it, some wont but there seems to be a hunger to be there to witness it and who knows, it may inspire a new era of artists. This is a city with confidence and a new hope for the future and with forthcoming elections on the way let’s hope its continues to strive.

As with all of Damien’s shows you really have to experience them in person to really appreciate them and their presence by their sheer size alone. I have been to many of his shows over the last couple of years but there were a few pieces that I really wanted to see, notably 'A Thousand Years' and the Superstitious triptych 'Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven'.

My favourites among his new paintings changed a few times over the two days as well. It’s quite a bold collection, and again the jpegs or catalogues don’t do them justice. The 'feathered' magpies, the stencilled spots and floral impressions, the blobs of paint, scratching of lines through layers of blue and black paints and in sharp contrast to spot, spin and fact works, visible brush strokes... There’s honesty and a vulnerability to them that comes back to Bacon and in these challenging economic times it’s what may give the contemporary art market the shot in the arm it needs!

I love 'Nothing matters/the Empty chair' and the 2 self portraits but  'Never see you again' is one of the paintings that has stayed with me. Are they ghosts or deceased relatives of Damien or are we supposed to be left with questions?

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and a photo of him in his Hirst T-shirt in front of the exhibition opening. A true fan!

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