'Love is an antidote to the horror in the world,' says Damien Hirst ahead of Valentine's show

Forget the formaldehyde, enfant terrible of Brit Art displays his cute side

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Spots, pills, butterflies…love hearts? Damien Hirst, the man famed for suspending dead animals in formaldehyde, is tapping into his cute side.

Britain's richest artist, who is thought to be worth around £215 million, is launching a pop up exhibition for Valentine’s Day.

"Love is a beautiful thing and I see it as a small antidote to all the horror in the world,” Hirst told The Independent.

The artist, whose other notable works also include around 1,400 spot paintings, is often described as the enfant terrible of the Brit Art scene.

He came under fire in 2012 after 9,000 butterflies died after they appeared in the installation In and Out of Love at Tate Modern.

Sharks, cows, sheep and even a zebra have found themselves sawn in half and placed in formaldehyde as part of his artwork.

But for his latest show the artist is focusing “exclusively on the theme of love” and works exhibited include a portfolio of love heart prints each foil blocked with a single butterfly. 

Also included will be two love heart pill sculptures ‘♡YU4EVA’, as well as ‘Love Struck’, a heart pierced by a crossbow bolt suspended in a sweet jar.

“Damien has always believed in love, it’s a common theme in his work,” remarked Paul Stolper, who is hosting Hirst’s exhibition from 9 until 21 February.

 “There’s nothing wrong with love. He’s proud to celebrate that belief.”

Damien Hirst Lo Res - credit must be used.jpg
Damien Hirst

Since the 1980s Hirst has used various mediums to explore life and death, explaining: “Art’s about life and it can’t really be about anything else... there isn’t anything else.”

The father of three, 49, who split with his partner of 19 years, Maia Norman, in 2012, has been dating girlfriend Roxie Nafousi for three years.

While some believe diamonds are an excellent gift for Valentine’s Day they might balk at Hirst’s 2007 sculpture “For the Love of God”, a platinum cast of a skull set with 8,601 flawless pavé-set diamonds, which allegedly sold for £50 million.

LOVE is at the Paul Stolper gallery, London from 9 to 21 February