Damien Hirst, Cherry Blossoms
Fondation Cartier, Paris, France
July 06, 2021 – January 02, 2022
“The Cherry Blossoms are about beauty and life and death. They’re extreme – there’s something almost tacky about them.Like Jackson Pollock twisted by love. They’re decorative but taken from nature. They’re about desire and how we process the things around us and what we turn them into, but also about the insane visual transience of beauty – a tree in full crazy blossom against a clear sky. It’s been so good to make them, to be completely lost in colour and in paint in my studio. They’re garish and messy and fragile and about me moving away from Minimalism and the idea of an imaginary mechanical painter and that’s so exciting for me.”
Damien Hirst’s latest series, Cherry Blossoms, is a continuation of his career – long investigation into painting. The artist reinterprets, with playful irony, the traditional subject of landscape painting as well as the great artistic movements of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from Impressionism to Action Painting.
Born in Bristol (UK) in 1965, Hirst grew up in Leeds before moving to London in 1984, where he still lives today. Working across sculpture, installation, painting and drawing, Hirst explores themes connected to life and death, excess and fragility. If sculpture – the Natural History series in particular – earned him an important reputation in his early years, painting has always played an essential role in Hirst’s work:
” I’ve had a romance with painting all my life, even if I avoided it. As a young artist, you react to the context, your situation. In the 1980s, painting wasn’t really the way to go.”
Started after an ambitious sculpture project, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, that took 10 years to make, the Cherry Blossoms series marks the artist’s return to solitary work in his studio. Hirst rediscovers the exhilarating pleasure to paint and “dive into the paintings and completely blitzing them from one end to the other.” He works on several canvases at the same time, constantly returning to some he keeps close by, months after their completion. After devoting three full years to the series, Hirst finished the Cherry Blossoms series in November 2020:
“The pandemic has given me a lot more time to live with the paintings, and look at them, and make absolutely certain that everything’s finished.”
The exhibition presents 30 paintings chosen by the artist among the 107 canvases of the series, all large – format. The scenography is voluntarily sober, without comments, in order to leave the visitors the pleasure of immersing themselves in the painting.