Damien Hirst has installed a 12ft sculpture the Monk in the middle of a frozen lake in St Moritz as part of a new exhibition called Mental Escapology (named after a Damien Hirst artwork from 2003 consisting of Thirty-two piece chess set) which opens next month 19th January-23rd February.
Hirst is showing more than 40 works spread across four indoor and outdoor sites. Another work Two Figures with a Drum will be sited on the north-eastern edge of the lake. Other venues include the Forum Paracelsus. Recognisable works from the Natural History series—animal corpses preserved in formaldehyde—and a photorealist painting titled Surgical Tools for Caesarean will go on show in the neoclassical space.
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Kaleidoscope Paintings will be shown in the Protestant church in the town centre. Unseen works from the 1990s Spot (Pharmaceutical) Paintings series, daubed with random irregularly shaped spots, will also be exhibited.
The exhibition has been curated by the art director Jason Beard and organised by the dealer Oscar Humphries.
“Most of the loans come from the artist. A few key works have been borrowed from private collections. St. Moritz is an increasingly important art centre and this will be the most ambitious exhibition ever staged there. The valley, the lake, the venues we are showing in are perfect for Damien’s work. For me, it was a case of a spectacular and interesting place crying out for an artist who made work that was the mirror in scale and impact of the location,”Humphries says.
The exhibition is a public exhibition, Damien Hirst’s first in Switzerland.
“Damien’s sculpture The Monk—something from the deep—on a frozen lake is a kind of perfect impossible thing. The engineering behind it was difficult, impossible even. But one of Damien’s central themes is the impossible so it’s an amazing symbiosis,”says Humphries.
“Damien has always thought about science as religion and religion as science, so it’s fascinating to be able to draw links between his work and these sites where pilgrims have sought healing for over 3,000 years. Being able to bring this survey to four very distinct, historical and naturally beautiful settings is a very exciting opportunity.”Jason Beard