29 October 2015 § Leave a comment
Editions are not our favourite form of art. There is the criticism – usually justified – that they are an easy way to maximise profit for both artist and dealer whilst at the same time keeping as many collectors as possible moderately happy.
Rather like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst has made rather more of a virtue of repetition, a large part of his art involving multiplication even where the work is unique. After all there are of course his spot paintings – an endless repeating mantra of coloured spots, numerous repeated spin paintings, shelves and shelves of pharmecuticals and pills, diamonds by the score, butterflies by the thousand, and even breeding flies.
Yet even with this background, another batch of editioned works does not somehow seem to be an overt case of profiteering. Rather more it is another Hirst statement about the art world and reflects his methodology.
The latest exhibition at Paul Stolper reverts to his fascination with the pharmaceutical industry. Like being cast in to a miniature Alice in Wonderland world of giant ‘Drink me’ potions the gallery features shelves of giant pills, medicine bottles, pharmaceutical boxes, ampoules, syringes, a scalpel, and drug packaging that all play with concepts of scale – the tallest measuring nearly one and a half metres.
“Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art. They’re all designed to make you buy them… they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty” Hirst says.
A three metre neon sign reading ‘Schizophrenogenesis’, each letter in a different colour, lights the space. Both a warning sign and a beacon, the work entices us into the gallery, where we are confronted by ‘The Cure’; a wall of thirty silkscreen prints, each depicting a two-colour pill set against vibrant backgrounds of pop-candy colours.
This is a playground of pharmaceuticals which further Hirst’s enduring exploration of contemporary belief systems; religion, love, art and medicine. The manipulation of scale, is just one of the techniques employed by the artist to analyse the confident aesthetic of the pharmaceutical industry.
It is all rather clever and it is immensely hard not to succumb to the temptation to touch these beautifully fabricated and highly seductive objects. With prices starting in the low thousands the prices are similarly tempting.
Hirst is an easy target but once again he has his finger on the pulse and even on cruise control has created another excellent body of work.
For more information visit the Paul Stolper Gallery
10 October 2010 § Leave a comment
Whatever you think of Mr Hirst, there is one thing for sure – he is not going to fade away. His latest exhibition opened last week to reveal some 340 different butterflies (not all on display), each in signed editions of 15 – a grand total of some 5,100 prints. At £3,000 (plus VAT) a pop it is not a bad return for the bad boy of British Art but, on the other hand, it is a relatively modest outlay to get your hands on an attractive original Hirst. It will not make anyone a fast buck, but should also hold its modest value reasonably well.
For someone who suffers from mild Lepidopterphobia (roughly translated as a fear of butterflies), it was with more than a little trepidation that I made my way to the Paul Stolper gallery in a beautiful Bloomsbury Street for the opening of The Souls by Damien Hirst last week. Thankfully my fears were alleviated as soon as I stepped into the beautiful pale, bright room containing floor to ceiling white frames encasing hypnotic shimmering butterflies.
As this was an exhibition of editioned prints, I was prepared for feelings of cynicism but was actually most surprised at how much I genuinely liked them. The four different shapes of butterfly together with the kaleidoscope of 84 different colour combinations were overwhelmingly beautiful. The foil-blocking of each butterfly has been done in three stages and then the base colour print received two more iridescent layers which highlight the detail on the patterned wing or body. Some butterflies comprise three colours, some two and others just one. The striking thing about each however, is that the image changes depending on where you’re standing. Even a matt wing glitters if you move an inch or two to the right or left.
Grouped in sets of four, the layout is reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s Flowers exhibition first displayed in 1964. You choose a favourite and then upon walking around the gallery, immediately your choice has been superseded with a new favourite – impossible! I expected to stay ten minutes and instead, remained for an hour just gawking at these objects of immense beauty and fragility.
Hirst was as usual confronting the balances between life and death. I, on the other hand, was confronting my secret admiration for these elegant insects. In fact I would love to buy a print if only I could decide which one.
Lost Souls runs until 13 November 2010.
For further information please visit: www.paulstolper.com
- Damien Hirst: The Souls, Paul Stolper Gallery, London (independent.co.uk)
- Why I’ve joined Damien Hirst’s bad taste party (guardian.co.uk)
- Damien Hirst faces new plagiarism claims (telegraph.co.uk)