Marking the opening of the new gallery in Gstaad, Gagosian is pleased to present Myths, Legends and Monsters, an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Damien Hirst. Produced over the past fifteen years, these works have not previously been exhibited.
Myths, Legends and Monsters (2007–) is a series of monochromatic oil paintings that depict legendary artistic, political, and pop-cultural personalities including Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Bowie, Sharon Tate, and Andy Warhol. Reconsidering what makes such figures lastingly iconic, Hirst calls into question contemporary notions of celebrity and identity, influence and notoriety. The series’ subjects are all complex individuals—far from being straightforward heroes or villains, they possess aspects of all three elements of the title. “I tried to represent humanity—or, often, a lack of it—in all its facets,” Hirst explains.
By rendering the subjects of Myths, Legends and Monsters in black and white, Hirst introduces a powerful aura of nostalgia to the project, a persistent suggestion of fading memories and times past. He also establishes a striking contrast with the intense and varied color on display in other well-known bodies of his work such as the extensive Spot Paintings series and, more recently, the Veil paintings. “I
felt a need to let the color drain away,” he notes, “and explore something more binary.” The exhibition’s pencil drawings, made after the paintings but of equal significance to the artist, underscore this exclusive focus.
Myths, Legends and Monsters is the most recent incarnation of Hirst’s Fact Paintings, which mimic photographs in oil on canvas, sometimes with scrupulous accuracy, at others reveling in the physical qualities of the medium. Fascinated by the implications of investing an extended period of artistic labor in the making of an image that was originally captured in a mere instant, Hirst presents these works as
challenges to the obduracy of “fact” as a governing principle of perception. Myths, Legends and Monsters explores, as do the Fact Paintings as a whole, a dialogue between the brush and the camera as agents of “truth.”
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DAMIEN HIRST Myths, Legends and Monsters February 14–March 26, 2022 Gstaad
About the artist
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol, England, and lives and works in London, Devon, and Gloucestershire, England. Collections include the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, Italy; Museum Brandhorst, Munich; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Stedelijk Museum,
Amsterdam; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid; Tate, London; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland; National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Art Institute of Chicago; The Broad, Los Angeles; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan.
Exhibitions include Cornucopia, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (2010); Tate Modern, London (2012); Relics, Qatar Museums Authority, Al Riwaq (2013); Signification (Hope, Immortality and Death in Paris, Now and Then), Deyrolle, Paris (2014); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2015); The Last Supper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016); Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Venice (2017); Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall: Colour Space Paintings and Outdoor Sculptures, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England (2019); Mental Escapology, St. Moritz, Switzerland (2021); Cherry Blossoms, Fondation Cartier, Paris (2021); and Archaeology Now, Galleria Borghese, Rome
(2021). Hirst received the Turner Prize in 1995.