Following the success of our 2011 exhibition The Dead and The Souls, Gow Langsford Gallery is thrilled to present a second one-man exhibition by British art magnate, Damien Hirst.
From animals encased in formaldehyde, jewel encrusted skulls, and works adorned with the wings of butterflies, Damien Hirst’s approach to creating art is unprecedented. Playing with appearances, Hirst is a master of manipulating the human eye and what we traditionally associate with certain images.
In the kaleidoscopic screenprint Entreaty, a tondo of jewel-like tones brings to mind a stained-glass window. Intricate layering of colour on the individual wings, and the gradual descending of the butterflies adds depth, mastering the three-dimensionality of glass facets. In creating this effect, Hirst extends the capabilities of the screenprint medium beyond its usual two-dimensional bounds.
As Hirst’s works unfold, their seemingly flawless beauty comes under question. What appear to be perfectly symmetrical images in Pardon and Entreaty consist of multiple inconsistencies and irregularities. Under a microscopic gaze, the butterflies reveal blemishes and tears in their delicate wings, as they surely would in nature. In relinquishing the pristine ordering of the wild insects, and in including their imperfections rather than concealing them, these works show Hirst to welcomingly surrender to “the nature of things.”
Despite a variety of medium and scale employed by Hirst, his works are tied through the common themes of death, life, religion, beauty and science. Through the seemingly morbid fascination with life and death, predominant in this exhibition, Hirst challenges contemporary belief systems and tensions that may arise when death is discussed and portrayed through art. The skulls reference mortality, which is juxtaposed against the spiritual symbolism of the butterfly that is depicted in Hirst’s works as embodiments of the beauty of life and their impermanent existence. The symbolism of the skull, however, is one that is also presented as a celebration of life; a nod to Mexican and European traditions and is often produced in a variety of bright tones and iridescent foiling.
This exhibition presents an overview of these themes with a selection of limited edition prints, including works based on his famed ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings, originally created in 2001, reminiscent of luminance stained glass windows populated with the wings of butterflies.
Since 1987, over 80 solo Damien Hirst exhibitions have taken place worldwide and his work has been included in over 250 group shows. Hirst’s first major retrospective ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy’ was held in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples in 2004, and in 2012, Tate Modern recognised his contribution to British art over the last two and a half decades with a major retrospective of his work.
On Saturday 18 March the Gallery will be open from 6-10pm as part of Auckland Festival's White Night.