Damien Hirst, The Battle Between Good and Evil, 2007
Without wishing to seem obsessed with either Damien Hirst, the titling of work or the programme at White Cube’s Bermondsey space, having written about Hirst’s paintings (terrible) and Nauman’s films (great) the completist in me thinks it worth writing about Hirst’s installation in 9 x 9 x 9, the final gallery space in the Bermondsey building.
The work takes the form of two beach balls – one black, one white – floating above a black and white square basis, held aloft presumably by a fan within the base. This is a playful work but my enjoyment of it was offset by wondering firstly how it would look in colours that said beach ball more assertively and secondly by wondering how it would look all in white. As it happens, on both counts, Google is my friend here.
After so much discussion recently about Damien Hirst’s spot paintings and his non-involvement in the actual painting process, I decided to face up to the challenge and go and take a look at the paintings he makes himself. Hirst’s exhibition Two Weeks One Summer at White Cube Bermondsey includes a series of 35 paintings Hirst made at his Devon home in 2010 along with an installation, The Battle Between Good and Evil (2007). I missed No Love Lost Hirst’s Blue Paintings at the Wallace Collection in 2009-10 and though I remember the poor reviews that show received I went to this one with an open mind and a determination to write about the work fairly. So here goes…
The Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern offers both a welcome(ish) chance to revisit Hirst’s early work and be reminded that he did start out by making some genuinely challenging and interesting work and a less welcome opportunity to see some of the most extreme art bling one is ever likely to encounter. Most obviously, there’s that skull. For the Love of God has generated so much press it’s not really possible to be all that surprised by it. Nonetheless, it’s a strange experience.
The world – well Gagosian Gallery, anyway – has gone dotty for Damien Hirst’s spot paintings. In an unprecedented move, Gagosian is showing a single artist across all its sites, and not just a single artist but a single strand of that artist’s work. The Complete Spot Pantings 1986-2011 is on now at all 11 Gagosian spaces globally. Why? What’s it all about?