Damien Hirst: Archaeology Now
Galleria Borghese – Rome, Italy
June 08 – November 07, 2021
On Tuesday 8 June, Galleria Borghese will open a new exhibition by Damien Hirst, curated by Anna Coliva and Mario Codognato. Over 80 works from Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable series will be displayed throughout the museum alongside ancient masterpieces. The exhibition will feature both monumental and small scale sculptures made from materials such as bronze, Carrara marble and malachite. Hirst’s Colour Space paintings, exhibited for the first time in Italy, will also be presented together with the permanent collection, while his colossal sculpture, Hydra and Kali, will be displayed outdoors in the Giardino Segreto of the Uccelliera.
Hirst’s works will be displayed throughout Galleria Borghese, a museum with a superb collection of masterpieces of classical Roman sculpture, Italian paintings of the Renaissance and the 17th century, and the most important works of Bernini and Canova. At the same time – and this is its uniqueness – it is a place with rich, ornate interiors of marble, stuccos and mosaics. The works by Hirst will complement the range of inventions and techniques seen in the museum’s collection, showcasing the artist’s incredible ability to combine concepts and narratives with the exceptional skills needed to create these complex works, which has been a constant of this institution.
This project stems from one of Hirst’s most original projects of the last twenty years: Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, which was exhibited for the first time in 2017 in Venice at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana. Here, he worked with a variety of materials – natural, technological, and precious – with exceptional technique and skill. Made from marble, bronze, coral, rock crystal, and semi-precious stones, and inserted among the masterpieces of the Galleria’s collection, these works celebrate the desire for variety held by the museum’s founder, Cardinal Scipione Borghese. His fantasy had been to go beyond categories, not only among the arts, but also those of fiction and reality.
The exhibition also presents a group of paintings from Hirst’s 2016 series titled Colour Space, which constitutes both a development of his Spot Paintings and a retrospection of the first work of that series, in which the spots were painted freely. Colour Space shows the infiltration, in Hirst’s words, of “human elements”. These works are like “cells under a microscope”. They refute the idea of a unified image; they float in space, bumping into and merging with one another, with a sense of movement that contradicts the stasis of the canvas.
Published by Marsilio in Italian and English, the exhibition catalogue contains critical essays by Anna Coliva, Mario Codognato, and Geraldine Leardi, as well as photos of the exhibition.
The project was made possible thanks to the support of Prada, which investigates areas of research such as art, architecture, philosophy and literature with the aim of developing innovative languages and projects, in a continuous dialogue with the broader scenarios of contemporaneity.