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Loyalty is one of the eight works from the iconic Virtues prints, created by British artist Damien Hirst - and the only one from the series that does not depict the tree's trunk, in comparison to the other works from the series.
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" 107 complete set of works, which will be exhibited for the first time at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, in July 2021.
While creating the painting Hirst has said "I feel alive when I'm painting them. So I'm putting my life into it. It's a lot, you , know, of climbing up a ladder, throwing paint, mixing big buckets, chinking them on the canvas from far away - all that energy of life is actually caught in the paint."
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.
"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."
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. As Hirst has said "What I love about them (at first) was the way that they were kind of in between representational and abstract. I always imagined them looking from underneath, at the canopy; they didn't have an up or down. But then towards the end, I started painting the trunk, and they became much more rooted in the ground. And I became happier with them looking a bit more like a tree, which I became afraid of. Maybe that's why the trunks became more part of it, because in the beginning of the whole series, I was thinking more about being disconnected from the earth, whereas by the end of it, I wanted to be firmly rooted."