Hell shows rows of stubbed-out cigarette ends and a single Cuban cigar on the shelves. The use of metallic foilblocking onto inkjet transforms the print, unremittingly drawing the viewer in and multiplying the cigarette butts. These objects embody the contradiction between desire, pleasure and death. The ashes recall a graveyard and the cigarette stubs create a ‘feeling of arid post-humanity in the most expansive way’ (Brian Dillon, Ugly Feelings in Damien Hirst, Tate 2012).
The cigarettes, now expired, are an image of dystopia and a reminder of mortality. Cigarettes are a recurring theme in Hirst’s work.
“The whole smoking thing is like a mini life cycle. For me, the cigarette can stand for life. The packet with its possible cigarettes stands for birth, the lighter can signify God, which gives life to the whole situation, the ashtray represents death […] being metaphorical is ridiculous, but it’s unavoidable.„