Hirst dispenses with the formaldehyde
Artist reverts to the paint brush for new exhibition at the Wallace Collection
Wednesday 14 October 2009
Damien Hirst has finally said stuff it to taxidermy zebras and formaldehyde sharks.
It will come as little surprise that mortality hangs over his new exhibition, which opens today at the classical Wallace Collection in London. The shock is that instead of pickled livestock or bejewelled human remains he presents a series of 25 paintings. Crazy idea.
"They're all by me!" he insisted yesterday, questioned about whether his workshops of minions had contributed to No Love Lost, Blue Paintings. "I've always painted, I painted these works over the last three years in one place, an old signal box that I installed at the bottom of my garden as an overflow room when drinking in the house becomes too much." Some of the painting was also undertaken at his home in north Devon.
His new works suspend trademark imagery – skulls, cadavers, ashtrays and sharks – in front of intense dark blue backgrounds. The gallery, which Hirst personally paid £250,000 to have refurbished and draped in blue silk, sits next door to the Wallace Collection's rooms of Old Masters; Titians, Rembrandts and Gainsborough. In a sideswipe at his contemporaries, Hirst said he had wanted the paintings displayed there because "you get a bit bored" of modern art galleries.
Forget the skulls and animal corpses. The strongest arbiter of death at his latest offering is the ghost of Francis Bacon, whose work Hirst echoes without surpassing.
"He's certainly an inspiration to me," acknowledged Hirst, speaking at the gallery. "I became obsessed with the colours black and blue as you can see. Bacon's work during the Fifties investigated the use of the colour blue."
"Painting is all about an illusion. I love Goya, Rembrandt, Bacon and de Kooning. They all share that messy go-for-it style that I find attractive." Hirst added: "I know I can sell dead sharks so from a sales perspective I'm more nervous about how these will be received."
No Love Lost portrays a sensitive side to Hirst; less art-factory manager, and instead the self-portrait of a family man. "I would agree with the suggestion that I find the process of painting cathartic," the father-of-three said. "Well, until I get interrupted by my kids. There are distractions whilst working from home and I seem to spend lots of time working for my kids. The other day my eldest asked me to change the background colour for a painting he'd done and I painstakingly followed the edges of his figures."
Earlier this year, Hirst shut two studios, although he prevented redundancies by redeploying staff to the maintenance of his existing works.
No Love Lost shows at the Wallace Collection until 24 January. It is free to visitors. A second series of paintings will go on sale at the White Cube Gallery from 24 October.
Hirst told how in the past he has bought skulls over the internet for his work for about "500 quid to a grand". Asked how he felt about donating his own head for art, he said: "I quite like that idea... I wouldn't mind my skull being an ashtray or something."
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Wolf Hall finale, review: Simply brilliant TV
Blade Runner sequel: Harrison Ford confirmed to return with Denis Villeneuve directing
All fiction follows one of six basic storylines, according to new research
House of Cards season 3 premiere, review: Has Frank Underwood gone soft?
Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East