Go see – London: Damien Hirst “Blue Paintings” at the Wallace Collection through January 24, 2010

October 16th, 2009

Skull with Ashtray and Lemon, Damien Hirst (2006/07) via Wallace Collection

Currently on show at the relatively traditional Wallace Gallery in London is, “No Love Lost: Blue Paintings,” an exhibition of 25 paintings by the multi-millionaire artist Damien Hirst.  Not only is this exhibition unusual in its location, but it, most importantly, sees Hirst steer dramatically away from the work for which he is best known.  Through this exploration Damien Hirst has placed himself a bit in the firing line and faced an significant amount of hard-hitting criticism.

Damien Hirst reflects amid his exhibition at the Wallace Collection via The Londonist

Related Links:
The Wallace Collection Homepage
Damien Hirst – The Blue Paintings at the Wallace Collection review [The Telegraph]
Dark days for Damien Hirst [Reuters]
Insult to Old Masters [TimesOnline]
Hirst abandons sharks, butterflies for oil painting: Interview [Bloomberg]
Are Hirst paintings any good? No. They are not worth looking at. [The Independent]
Damien Hirst: Dead on arrival [TIME]
Damien Hirst enters his Blue Period with imitations of mortality [The Guardian]
Stop it Damien Hirst. You’re just embarrassing yourself [The Evening Standard]
It couldn’t get worse for Damien Hirst [The Telegraph]
Hirst sets sights on joing Old Masters [Financial Times]
Damien Hirst at the Wallace Collection – review [Londonist.com]
Damien Hirst might have forgotten that he couldn’t paint [The Telegraph]
Damien Hirst at the Wallace Collection, W1 [TimesOnline]

More images and text after the jump…

Floating Skull (2006) via othercriteria.com

The exhibition consists of 25 pictures including two triptychs and their figurative matter consists of iconography much associated with Hirst’s oeuvre–skeletons, a shark’s open maw, ashtrays, flayed bodies, thickets of wood and most notably, skulls, which immediately remind the viewer of the diamond-encrusted skull For the Love of God that Hirst sold for £50 million in 2008.

Requiem, White Roses and Butterflies Damien Hirst (2008) via artschoolvets

One thing that undoubtedly distinguishes this exhibition from other Hirst shows is that the artist painted the entire series with his own hand, unaided by his assistants. In December 1999, the Sunday Times famously stated ‘If Hirst is notable for anything, it is for finally severing the link between the “artist” and the person who actually saws up the wildlife, colours in the dots, polishes the surgical instruments and so on (his assistants take care of all that). It is safe to say that he rarely gets his hands dirty.’ This exhibition once again raises this ever-debated issue; some critics have ridiculed Hirst as an artist calling his paintings amateurish and adolescent,” while others, such as Sarah Compton, acknowledge Hirst’s achievements by recognizing his weakness as a painter but his strength in innovation – “it is the power of his thought not his hand that has made his work so resonant and incisive.”

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth (2008) via The Telegraph

The old-fashioned setting of the Wallace Collection adds another interesting twist added to this exhibition; Hirst’s paintings hang among those of great masters of the past – Poussin, Rembrandt, and Titian. Further to this, Hirst’s paintings hang in heavy old-master frames on a background of floral blue silk wall paper – a feature of the exhibition that cost £60,000 to install and will be removed when the exhibition closes of January 24. Speaking to open the exhibition, Hirst, 44, insisted he was not attempting to directly compare himself with the Old Masters, but commented: “I like that Gauguin quote: ‘Where do we come from?’

Turner-Prize winning artist, Grayson Perry, views Hirst’s exhibition at the Wallace Collection. via Zimibio

The majority of these works were painted in a Claridges Suite two years before Hirst’s record-breaking sale featuring pickled animals, spin and spot paintings that raised £111 million at Sotheby’s, London in 2008. Therefore, anyone at all interested in Hirst’s work to date will find this exhibition interesting in light of the fact that Hirst’s decision to exhibit this series now portrays a very deliberate shift in his career.