Regarded as contemporary art’s l’enfant terrible, Damien Hirst constantly manages to surprise the public with a witty, genuine, and sometimes even a shocking approach to the craft. Remaining genre-defying, his varied practice that includes installation, sculpture, painting and drawing explores the complex relationship between art, life and death.
With his latest series which will go on view at Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, the artist's first museum exhibition in France, Hirst returns to the pure immediacy of painting. Cherry Blossoms will unveil his latest paintings that resulted from two years intense of work in his London studio and a part of his career-long investigation into the medium.
After studying in Leeds and then Goldsmiths College of Art in London in the late eighties, Damien Hirst quickly became the face the Young British Artists, a group that shared a taste for experimentation and art viewed as provocative by some. However, painting has always played an essential role in his work, describing it as a romance he has all his life, even if he avoided it.
As a young artist, you react to the context, your situation. In the 1980s, painting wasn’t really the way to go.
Among his most celebrated series is Spot Painting, featuring colored dots which appear to have been painted by a machine, erasing all traces of human intervention. His later series Visual Candy was made up of thick splats of paint and exuberant superimposed colors, celebrating the pleasures of the medium.
In his latest series Cherry Blossoms, Hirst reinterpreted the traditional subject of landscape painting, creating monumental canvases entirely covered in dense bright colors that traverse boundaries of figuration and abstraction. Combining thick brushstrokes and elements of gestural painting, these works are at once a subversion and homage to movements such as Impressionism and Pointillism, as well as Action Painting.
Revisiting the spontaneous joy of painting, Hirst highlights the fallibility of the hand of the artist working in his studio. The artist explained the series is about beauty and life and death, as well as "about desire and how we process the things around us and what we turn them into, but also about the insane visual transience of beauty."
It’s been so good to make them, to be completely lost in color and in paint in my studio. They’re garish and messy and fragile and about me moving away from Minimalism and the idea of an imaginary mechanical painter and that’s so exciting for me.
The series Cherry Blossoms is part of the pictorial investigation carried out by Hirst since the start of his career, exploring color, beauty, perception and the role of the artist.
The exhibition Cherry Blossoms will be on view at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris from June 14th until November 8th, 2020.
Featured image: Damien Hirst in the studio, 2019. All images © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2019. All images courtesy Fondation Cartier.