John Hurrell – 6 August, 2011
This show doesn't show him at his most thrilling but does reveal what a clever deviser of sumptuous images Hirst is (when he chooses) even though his reputation was initially based on conceptual projects that were often optically repulsive or ideationally disturbing.
The Dead and The Souls
20 July - 27 August 2011
In my view Damien Hurst is a far more interesting maker of large three dimensional free-standing sculpture than he is a painter, yet this show - a painting, lots of prints, and small objects in small containers - with its ginormous international art market prices, is worth checking out. It doesn’t show him at his most thrilling but does reveal what a clever deviser of sumptuous images he is (when he chooses) even though his reputation was initially based on conceptual projects that were often optically repulsive or ideationally disturbing.
The million dollar circular Beautiful Apollo Idealisation Painting cunningly blends his fairground ‘spin’ methodology with two references to Warhol - Andy’s skull and camouflage series. He seems to have amalgamated silkscreening technology with turntable centrifugalism, so that the speeding dribbles inside the skull are distinct from the circular field enclosing it. It is a Warhollian homage - yet still very Hirstian with its distinctive radiating splats.
He continues a much explored theme of the transience of existence (that all skulls suggest, but adding metempsychosis) with his large butterflies on paper, glowing pearlescent colours that shimmer and flicker. The colour combinations vary. Some are obvious and corny. Others which are monochromatic or black and white, are subtle.
The mounted real butterflies encased in boxes are fascinating in the way he has used paint to stroke the edges of their wings and bodies, a sort of tender caress that also seems to stick the fragile forms viciously down on to the mount - like flypaper. Love and hate together.
Hirst’s other smallish sculptures consists of a vertical vitrine of several plastic skulls covered in garish paint, with a music CD case jammed in their cranium and watch dials in their eye sockets. Quite humorous though not much chromatic or metaphoric nuance here, they delight in being gross. I go for the greyish-brown butterflies on paper I think. You have to look hard to see the colour variations but the closely matched tones make them special.
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