These previously unseen works exemplify the artist’s endless capacity for invention. In The Secret Gardens Paintings (2023), Hirst depicts thriving gardens in which different species of vibrantly colored flowers emerge from their verdant surroundings in a style that balances the designed and the natural, the harmonious and the chaotic. Rendering blooms, shrubs, and ponds in quick but convincing detail, he also incorporates consciously indistinct passages before finally adding an abstract layer to each canvas by hurling thick paint at its surface from a loaded brush. This produces a dynamic network of bright splatters that Hirst has described as being
like pollen, or something that feels like an assault on the senses.
The Secret Gardens Paintings is the latest in a succession of bodies of work by Hirst that began with Fact Paintings (2002) and continued through Colour Space Paintings (2016), Veil Paintings (2017), and Cherry Blossoms (2018–20); it also develops techniques employed in the Coast Paintings (2019) and Seascapes (2021). The Secret Gardens Paintings series builds in particular on the floral subject matter and highly expressive painterly technique of the Cherry Blossoms series, which is also distinguished by thick brushstrokes and gestural marks, and by allusions to elements of Impressionism, Pointillism, and Action painting.
Flowers are perennial subjects for artists, appearing in Dutch Golden Age memento mori compositions as representatives of life’s fleeting beauty, as devices for Impressionist painters to express personal emotion, and as continually adaptable visual and conceptual icons in contemporary practice. Similarly, images of gardens have consistently functioned as arenas in which dramas of death and renewal take on visual form. Hirst’s new series explores these and other themes and focuses on the exchange between humanity and its environment. Says the artist, “I want The Secret Gardens Paintings to feel like the hope and futility we get when we try to control nature.”At Frieze Masters, Gagosian will present Franz West: Papier, a selection of paper-based works chosen in collaboration with Oscar Murillo.
FRIEZE LONDON, October 12th–15th, 2023, Regent’s Park, London Booth E7
About the artist
Damien Hirst was born in in Bristol, England, and lives and works in London and Devon, 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.#FriezeArtFair