Mercy is one of the eight works from the iconic Virtues prints, the latest edition by British artist Damien Hirst. These eight limited editions are each titled after one of The Eight Virtues of Bushidō according to Nitobe Inazō -Justice, Courage, Mercy, Politeness, Honesty, Honour, Loyalty, and Control. A continuation of Hirst's "Cherry Blossom" works, which will be exhibited for the first time at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, in July 2021 until January 2022. Hirst devoted two years, in 2018 and 2019, to creating the 107 imposing paintings that comprise the Cherry Blossoms series. In his London studio, he combined thick brushstrokes and elements of gestural painting, referencing Impressionism, Pointillism, and Action Painting. Hirst has been fascinated by the subject of cherry blossoms from an early age, as early as at the age of three - still remembering - watching his mother paint a cherry blossom tree in blossom. As a young adult Hirst was enchanted by a cherry blossom tree outside his bedroom window in Devon. The series of the Cherry Blossoms once again binds Hirst's oeuvre together; each blossom is made out of coloured dots echoing his Spot series, as well as the Veils paintings and even going all the way back to his Visual Candy series - early painterly representations created in an abstracted matter.
“I realised that, from a time-passing point of view, the tree meant everything to me: that's another year, that's another year. For a while, it just became like a clock. And I kind of love it for that reason: all the Japanese significance, the sakura; both optimistic and sad... renew and death.„