Item Number: 112140
Title: DAMIEN HIRST : Poisons + Remedies
Author: Shteyngart, Gary
Price: Not Available
Description: New York: Gagosian Gallery, Other Criteria, 2010. 2 vols. 36cm., pbk., in a plastic sleeve. Poisions book : 36pp. with duratran insert; Remedies book: 52pp., both books fully illus., most in color. Exhibition catalogue. Summary: In recent years, the skull has been a recurrent icon in Hirst's paintings and sculptures, most notably in the jeweled death's head, For the Love of God (2007); in monumental spin paintings such as Beautiful Ahura Mazda Intoxication Painting (2007); and in the "blue paintings" such as The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth (2008), which were exhibited at the Wallace Collection, London in 2009. In his latest series, Hirst continues to explore the dichotomies at the core of human existence, through formal means such as color (black and white) and scale (large and small). In Poisons, single images of human skulls are silkscreened in black UV ink with charcoal onto large-scale canvases. Each painting is of an evidently different skull and titled after a toxic chemical preparation, for example Thallium and Botulinum, to conflate the identity of each ghostly visage with a possible cause of death. The subtle variations in the skulls hint at the individual differences that characterize a face, while underscoring the assimilative equivalence that occurs in death. In the Remedies, Hirst provides an ambivalent, disconnected antidote to the darkness of the Poisons. Colored resin and plaster pills are scattered across a white painted ground, creating a topography of clustered and chaotic arrangements. In From Safety to Where (2008-2009) and These Days (2008-2009), he adds washes of watercolor to mimic the residue of identifiably branded pills, which appear to seep into the canvas. Remedies expands on earlier works that have incorporated pharmacological elements in sterile, stainless steel medical wall-mounted cabinets and in enlarged photorealist paintings. By juxtaposing symbols of mortality and toxicity with antidotes, Hirst depicts the ongoing struggle between the forces of dark and light in contemporary life. Poisons and Remedies reminds of the tenuous boundaries between life and death, acknowledging the life-altering role of science while alluding to the redemptive powers of art.
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