|Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986 - 2011 as seen at Gagosian Gallery on West 24th Street, New York.|
Last week I went to the opening of the Damien Hirst show at the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles and was able to get my fill of his beautiful Spot paintings. In fact, in honor of his upcoming retrospective at the Tate London (opens April 4, 2012), all 11 Gagosian locations around the world (8 cities, 3 continents) opened on January 12th with exhibits made up entirely of works from his Spot series.
|Acid Ethyl Ester, 2010-11, by Damien Hirst, currently on display at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.|
Over 300 works from his Spot series are currently on exhibit, ranging in size from tiny to immense, a single dot, to more than 25,000. In a recent interview, Hirst said these paintings "look sort of happy - like Skittles or kids' sweets. But when you see them together you get kind of lost in them. There's an underlying anxiousness." For me, their beauty lies in their simplistic format and wildly vibrant colors. No spots touch and no color is ever repeated on a single canvas. Stand in front of one for more than a few seconds and it's easy to get caught up in it in an easy, weightless sort of way.
If his name doesn't ring a bell, you may know Hirst, 46, from one of his first controversial and most famous pieces - a tiger shark he suspended in formaldehyde (which was later purchased by hedgefund manager Steve Cohen for $8 million dollars). Love it or hate it, this piece still comes up regularly in art journals and contemporary art conversation. Hailing from Bristol in the U.K, he studied at Goldsmiths College and has emerged as one of the most important and controversial artists of the contemporary art movement of the 1990's. In 1995, he was the recipient of Britain's Turner Prize, a contemporary art award that is given each year to a British artist under 50 for an outstanding exhibition in the 12 months proceeding.
|Beautiful Bleeding Wound Over the Materialism of Money Painting, 2005 by Damien Hirst.|
|Away From the Flock, by Damien Hirst, collection of Eli Broad.|
|Confitebor tibi, by Damien Hirst.|
My favorite works by Hirst are from his Butterfly series and they call to mind many of the colorful stained glass windows I saw on a recent trip to France. Made entirely of real butterflies, their glorious wings glisten as the observer walks from one side of the painting to the other. I've seen a number of these works, most recently at LACMA when Eli Broad's collection was on display, and despite having a morbid dimension to them (dead insects aren't the happiest of choices), they are almost as beautiful in death as they are in life. What do you think? I'll always dream of a Hirst painting greeting me when I get home from work, but for now, I'll settle for a few fun pieces, all with a little of Hirst's je ne sais quoi.
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