DAMIEN HIRST, THE COMPLETE SPOT PAINTINGS 1986-2011.

The 2012 has just begun and Damien Hirst already plays with the numbers of this controversial and debated year. He does it in his way, with the desecrating attitude he always had.

On 1/12/2012 his art dealer, Larry Gagosian, monopolizes all his galleries, 11 to be exact, scattered to the four corners of the earth, to open the exhibitions The Complete Paintings 1986-2011. A multi-exhibition, unique of its kind, displaced in different countries to celebrate the triumph of the series inspired by the form of pills blister, painted by a staff of employees, according to precise instructions given by Hirst.

The idea of the spot paintings were that they’re an endless series, so the idea of painting spots for the rest of my life, after I’d done five, was completely tedious. I could visualise the whole thing, so it then becomes a bind physically to get in there and paint it, when somebody else could do it just the same. I numbered all the colours and I numbered all the spaces and drew the spots out and said this is where they go.”   (1)

More than once the British artist has described his modus operandi as the one of an architect: rather it seems, after all, Hirst reproposes the ancient practice of the “bottega” (craftman’s studio).

During Renaissance the most important Italian artists (not all, of course) had workshops with several apprentices. Some of them were so talented that became teachers in their turn, others, however, were just used to complete the numerous orders.

Hirst leads to extreme consequences this second aspect, according to a assembly line.

Yet he stated to choose the assistants judging by their loyalty to him: a witty paradox.

He, furthermore, intends to assimilate the exhibition to a collective event such as the White Nights, the global launch of a movie or a fashion product.

An encyclopedic, omniscient desire, well exemplified by the work completed in 2011 consisting of 25781 spots, one millimeter each, without any repetition of a single color.

Omniscient as God: in fact it’s not a secret that Hirst has repeatedly equated the medicines to a new deity. He likes medicines because they are the solution to problems. They may represent a new god: once upon a time we prayed, today we take the pills. According to him, aspirin or paracetamol becomes as the Eucharist: their perfect white is supposed to be the body of Christ. Someone goes to church, takes the Holy Communion and dies anyway. Instead, someone else takes a pill by a pharmaceutical company and maybe survives.  (2)

Prochlorperazine, Levorphanol, Methoxyverapamil, Famotidine: here the titles, who knows the names of narcotics and stimulants of the human nervous system could be a play on words on the “Death of Art”.

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2 thoughts on “DAMIEN HIRST, THE COMPLETE SPOT PAINTINGS 1986-2011.”

  1. Architect is one metaphor. I prefer manager, because it seems slightly less complementary, You could have the impression that contemporary art is critical but in fact it is part of the system it sometimes appears to criticise, Here’s Hirst as manager and marketeer.

    1. The question that you raise is a debated, thicklish subject. I would like to point out a remark in connection with that: I find interesting (of course, scientifically speaking) the initiative to “present” a personalized, signed by Hirst, Spot to those who visit all the exhibitions. The organization has even taken the trouble to clarify the rules: Partecipants must etc.
      Visiting an exhibition here is equivalent to a treasure hunt, or an accumulation of shopping points at the supermarket. So what is the miraculous power of art mentioned by Hirst in his interviews?

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