Damien Hirst: Relics and Fly Painting

🖤Relics and Fly Paintings is a solo exhibition by the English artist Damien Hirst. In this new iteration, the artist covered the interior of the gallery with a black butterfly pattern wallpaper, reproducing the kaleidoscope surface of his painting “Valley of Death” (2010). With its unique immersive atmosphere, the exhibition brings together Hirst's many works, triggering reflections on themes such as darkness and death, the past, and the future.

The artist's Relics are souvenirs: cast in bronze, they depict corpses, skeletons, and mummies in detail. Juxtaposed with pathological realism and fantasy sources of inspiration, these time-frozen bodies emphasize the artist's ingenious combination of art, science, history, and religion. A set of metal meteorites of different sizes continues Hirst's attention to the concept of simulacra and exerts humanity's long-term fascination with outer space. The monumental sculpture "The Martyr – Saint Bartholomew " (2019) follows historical tradition, depicting its theme as a study of écorché figures, balancing the dedication of the Bible and the similar reverence for the human body. Although Hirst’s sculpture is a tribute to this century-old artistic practice, the saint’s determined posture and gleaming figure are also reminiscent of robots or modern anatomical models.

He incorporates real insects into his paintings of flies, unearthing their connection with countless symbols of life cycle and fear of death. Like most of his works, these paintings are intoxicated by the shocking dichotomy, while returning to various formal precedents. Putting organic matter under the constraints of geometry, they evoked "Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square” (1915) and Richard Serra's black paintstick figure, and many other references. Fly painting provides an unforgettable detached perspective for human existence, within its scope is both microscopic and macroscopic.
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