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A celebration of colour within chaos
at Fondation Cartier

The Cherry Blossoms series reinterprets, with playful irony, the traditional subject of landscape painting. Hirst combines thick brushstrokes and elements of gestural painting, referencing both Impressionism and Pointillism, as well as Action Painting. The monumental canvases, which are entirely covered in dense bright colours, envelope the viewer in a vast floral landscape moving between figuration and abstraction.

These works are at once a subversion and homage to the great artistic movements of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are integral to the pictorial exploration long carried out by Hirst.

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"The Cherry Blossoms are about beauty and life and death. They’re extreme — there’s something almost tacky about them. (…) They’re decorative but taken from nature. (…) They’re garish and messy and fragile and about me moving away from Minimalism and the idea of an imaginary mechanical painter and that’s so exciting for me."

—Damien Hirst

GIF: Installation view of Cherry Blossoms at Fondation Cartier

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"The Cherry Blossoms are about beauty and life and death. They’re extreme—there’s something almost tacky about them. Like Jackson Pollock twisted by love. They’re decorative but taken from nature. They’re about desire and how we process the things around us and what we turn them into, but also about the insane visual transience of beauty—a tree in full crazy blossom against a clear sky. It’s been so good to make them, to be completely lost in color and in paint in my studio. They’re garish and messy and fragile and about me moving away from Minimalism and the idea of an imaginary mechanical painter and that’s so exciting for me."

—Damien Hirst

GIF: Our impression from visiting the Opening on Sunday, 4 July 2021

The editions:

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Politeness (The Virtues, H9-4), 2021
Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel
Edition of 1549
120 x 96 cm (47.2 x 37.8 in)

Hand-signed and numbered on label (verso)
In mint condition

Find out more here

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Justice (The Virtues, H9-1), 2021
Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel
Edition of 1005
120 x 96 cm (47.2 x 37.8 in)

Hand-signed and numbered on label (verso)
In mint condition

Find our more here

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Loyalty (The Virtues, H9-7), 2021
Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel
Edition of 1067
120 x 96 cm (47.2 x 37.8 in)

Hand-signed and numbered on label (verso)
In mint condition

Find out more here

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Mercy (The Virtues, H9-3), 2021
Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel
Edition of 817
120 x 96 cm (47.2 x 37.8 in)

Hand-signed and numbered on label (verso)
In mint condition

Find out more here

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The Virtues (portfolio of 8), 2021
Diasec-mounted Giclée print on aluminium composite panel
Clockwise: Justice, Courage, Mercy, Politeness, Honesty, Honour, Loyalty, Control
In matching edition numbers
Each: 120 x 96 cm (47.2 x 37.8 in)
In mint condition

Find out more here

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In Paper Kite Butterfly on Oleander, Hirst features his signature motif – the butterfly – alive in its natural surroundings, hanging from a beautiful, strikingly coloured blossom. In this, he has created an uplifting and celestial image that inspires childlike wonder in the face of such a beauty of nature. At the same time, however, it provokes fundamental questions about the meaning of life, a life which is characterized by death, and the fragility of biological existence.

“I love butterflies because when they are dead they look alive."—Damien Hirst

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The distinction between life and death, myth and medicine, is explored by the Cabinet series, as they serve as a shrine to modern pharmaceuticals.

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There is no imminent promise of salvation, no escape offered in these works. Those black pills, as in Dark Black Heaven, are as threatening as they are strangely attractive, a dark fatal allure which we already know leads to one ultimate destiny.

Hirst’s work questions the equivocal role of medicine. It can either take life and save life or destroy and restore. These pills are not a memento mori like the skulls or the butterflies. They are a symbol of resignation and alienation from life, and a fatal attraction towards death.

"It’s like God should be, the way they sell you the pills, the forms, the utopia, the hope, the cure. We’ve come a long way since quack doctors."—Damien Hirst

The pharmaceutical cabinets, as in Hirst’s work Utopia, question people´s complete reliance on medications and their power to heal, which fulfill the natural desire for immortality. However, the question is: Can drugs cure this problem, or can art?

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On the other hand, Gold tears, which is part of the Utopia series, depicts rows of shiny diamonds on shelves covered with golden foil in front of a golden-beige background. The image is an intense vision of a golden cabinet filled with diamonds, a vision often associated with glorious eternity. But as always in Hirst’s art, the ambiguity is obvious – this cabinet points to the fact that behind all the shiny glittery surfaces there might be nothing, no meaning, and no soul. And hence the desire for eternity is less a promise than a condemnation.

"I can’t understand why most people believe in medicine and don’t believe in art, without questioning either."—Damien Hirst

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