Damien Hirst – Flies and butterflies.

Confronting death and the brutality of nature head on, is something that Damien Hirst does easily and without apology. So make sure you leave your morality outside and steel yourself as you walk into his exhibition at Tate Modern.

A Thousand Years (1990), Damien Hirst

Covering most of his career and nearly all his significant work, this is a great way to get introduced to Hirst especially if you don’t like him. And though it might force you to redefine your idea of art, it did make me realize that I don’t like being confronted with death. I would rather pretend death didn’t exist, than be faced with it before my time.

But this is what Hirst does. And he sullies the floors of the hallowed Tate and makes a ton of money doing it.

Spoiler Alert – Here’s the link to the entire show courtesy the Tate.

The one thing I do like about Hirst is that there are two sides to him. He never offers answers but only asks the questions that we all have at the back of our minds. And just as easily as he uses flies as metaphors for human beings, butterflies are also put to work.

In and Out of Love (1991), Damien Hirst

While Hirst’s focus is largely on death, you also get glimpses of hope and birth. And that is what makes him a good artist and a perpetual paradox. You can’t put Hirst into a box or define his work in one way alone. His work is whatever you want it to be. And that fact that he has an unlimited budget to make any kind of artwork he wants, makes him the epitome of a successful artist.

And some more insights into the mind and workings of Hirst can be found on 4Od.

Lastly here’s a book that I am reading at the moment that gives you a glimpse into the YBA and the London art scene in the 1990’s – Lucky Kunst by Greggor Muir. I picked up a copy at the book shop after going through Hirst’s exhibition and I literally can’t put it down. Aside from it being research for my new job, it also has some good stories about the rise of Hirst. You can see that he was his own man right from the beginning, so what he has become today isn’t much of a surprise. Definitely worth a read especially if you like Tracey Emin, Hirst and Matt Collishaw.

Damien Hirst
Upto 9 Sep 2012
Tate Modern

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