Damien Hirst appears as 'dark overlord of contemporary art' in sinister new Jonathan Yeo portrait


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The Independent Culture

A portrait of Damien Hirst by Jonathan Yeo will be go on display later this year at the National Portrait Gallery.

The sinister portrait shows Hirst looking directly at the viewer, dressed in a chemical dry suit and holding a mask, which he wears to make his formaldehyde works.

Click here for more pictures of Jonathan Yeo's portraits

Yeo and Hirst, who have wildly different artistic backgrounds, worked together to choose the latter's controversial attire.

Yeo, who is best known for his painted portraits of Tony Blair and a pregnant Sienna Miller, said the outfit and composition were intentionally obscure.

"Even when we realise it's a chemical dry suit, it's not entirely clear if Hirst is making something or whether he is being pickled in one of his own tanks," he said.

“The pose was intended to reflect ironically his supposed status as dark overlord of the Contemporary Art scene.

He added: “Ultimately his faint smirk is the giveaway, both that he was a knowing collaborator in the choice of composition, and that his mischievous sense of humour is never far from anything he does.”

Hirst, whose art centres more on sculpture and installation, said: “Yeo time and time again achieves what should be impossible: creating a true picture, an image or a glimpse, of people we think we know and of those we’ve never met.”

The portrait will go on show as part of the National Portrait Gallery’s upcoming exhibition of Yeo’s work, a retrospective of his portrait work to date.

The exhibition will include drawings of the party leaders on the 2001 general election campaign trail, private studies of his family and portraits of well-known figures including Miller, Rupert Murdoch and another fellow contemporary artist Grayson Perry.