It seems that art writers everywhere are frothing at the bit to tear shreds out of Damien Hirst’s recent offerings; paintings created by – heaven forbid – the artist’s own hand! The artist who presented us with spot paintings, the £50 million diamond encrusted skull and animals suspended in formaldehyde (none of which were physically made by Hirst) has turned his attention to the subtle art of still life.
Hirst effectively ‘donated’ £250,000 to exhibit at Britain’s Wallace Collection, a museum famous for its Old Master paintings and collection of antique furniture. Hirst gilded the ceiling, relined the gallery walls with blue silk and hung his paintings in the company of Velasquez and Titian.
Familiar motifs including sharks, bones and butterflies are set amidst dots and faint striated lines all rendered in a style that is heavily indebted to Hirst’s idol – Francis Bacon. Considering Hirst himself has claimed: “I was always very dissatisfied with my paintings, I always thought they weren’t very good”. One wonders what he’s making of the overwhelmingly negative response.
Guardian critic Adrian Searle described the work as ‘amateurish and adolescent’, his colleague Jonathan Jones claimed that the paintings were not only ‘terrible’, but revealed ‘everything that’s wrong with modern art’, The Telegraph’s Mark Hudson described them as ‘technically inept’ and the Independent’s Tom Lubbock reckons they’re ‘not worth looking at’.
Despite the critics’ venom, the Wallace Collection has received a record number of visitors, and the show is set to be their most popular ever.
‘No Love Lost, Blue Paintings by Damien Hirst’ is on display at The Wallace Collection, London, until January 24th, 2010.