Infamous for his wealth, celebrity and his record-breaking, bank-breaking auction prices, Damien Hirst has become somewhat the poster boy for British Art of his era. Rarely shown in this country, Auckland audiences will be treated to an exhibition of his work at Gow Langsford Gallery this winter. Although it may be difficult not to mention money when talking about Hirst, the exhibition The Dead and The Souls brings together a selection of editioned works, as well as some impressive originals, which will appeal to those with pockets shallower than Charles Saatchi's.
The two bodies of editioned work on show, The Dead (2009) and The Souls (2010) envelop several of Hirst's well known concerns; death and life, beauty and desire with a dynamism typical of Hirst's work. The consecutive series are each made up of a few compositions in various colour-ways and each print is in an edition of only fifteen. In The Souls butterflies, as symbols for both the beauty of life and its impermanence, become metaphors for faith and death, while the skull imagery in The Dead make overt reference to mortality. Laid out like museum specimens and more or less anatomically correct Hirst has beautified his subjects through the use of block foil printing. "Of The Souls Hirst has said: I love butterflies because when they are dead they look alive. The foil block makes the butterflies have a feel similar to the actual butterflies in the way that they reflect the light. After The Dead I had to do the butterflies because you can't have one without the other". [Bracewell, M. (2010)]
The mass of imagery and scintillating colour creates spectacle, perhaps inevitable for Hirst, while collectively these works remind us of his power as an image maker and his enduring ability to captivate his audience.
As well as the two collections above we will be showcasing several of Hirst's sculptural Spin Skull works, three butterfly paintings and the impressive original, Beautiful Apollo Idealisation Painting.
Ali Ikram takes a look at our Damien Hirst exhibition on TV3's Nightline. View the video here.