DAMIEN HIRST (b. 1965)
DAMIEN HIRST (b. 1965)
DAMIEN HIRST (b. 1965)
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DAMIEN HIRST (b. 1965)
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DAMIEN HIRST (b. 1965)

Veil of Mother's Tenderness

Details
DAMIEN HIRST (b. 1965)
Veil of Mother's Tenderness
signed, titled, inscribed and dated 'Damien Hirst 2017 Veil of Mother's Tenderness Veil Paintings' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
108 x 72 in. (274.3 x 189.2 cm.)
Painted in 2017.
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner, 2018

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Isabella Lauria
Isabella Lauria Head of 21st Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Rainbow confetti explodes across Damien Hirst’s Veil of Mother's Tenderness, enveloping the viewer in an exuberant burst of pure, euphoric color. Teeming with rose pinks, verdant greens, sky blues, and blazing orange, the painting conjures images of Gustave Klimt’s fields of flowers. The work forms part of Hirst’s Veils, a series he began in 2008 after the death of his friend, the artist, Angus Fairhurst. Created on a monumental scale, Veil of Mother's Tenderness pays playful tribute to neo-Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism’s ‘all over’ approach as well Hirst’s own prolific practice. Indeed, in some ways, these paintings encapsulate Hirst’s long, and ongoing, exploration of color. As he explained, previous series “gave [him] the confidence and freedom to let loose and get lost and really celebrate all those years and moments in [the] Veil paintings” (D. Hirst interviewed by A. McDonald, “In The Studio: Damien Hirst’s Veil Paintings,” Gagosian Quarterly, 4 July 2020, https://gagosian.com/quarterly/2020/07/04/interview-damien-hirst-veil-paintings/). Executed in 2017, Veil of Mother's Tenderness is a firework display of luscious color and bold brushwork.

Building off his earlier Visual Candy paintings, in the Veil series, Hirst returns to the idea of optical merriment, here rendered exhilarating and colossal. Hirst conceived of these works as a finite series, consisting of ninety-four paintings and a related grouping of works on paper, which he then proceeded to create, at times concurrently. To begin, he covered each canvas with a different color: “I have a selection of colors that I love and use over and over again,” he said. “They are like sweet shop colors and the colors of fruit and flowers; they are my go-to colors” (D. Hirst interviewed by A. McDonald, “In The Studio: Damien Hirst’s Veil Paintings,” Gagosian Quarterly, 4 July 2020). Then, using a long brush, long enough to force some distance between surface and artist, Hirst dotted his canvases, one spirited daub after another. The Veil paintings were created entirely by Hirst’s hand and without the aid of his studio team.

In the Veil canvases, Hirst conjured the aesthetics of Georges Seurat, Gustave Klimt, and Pierre Bonnard, among other neo-Impressionists. In Divisionism, the late-nineteenth century technique pioneered by Seurat, dots of contrasting colors are placed side by side on the canvas so that, when seen from afar, they coalesce into a single image. Indeed, in the vibrancy of Veil of Mother's Tenderness are the vestiges of Nabis interiors whose pointillist colors appear to liquify and shimmer. In seeking to combine colors optically instead of through blended pigments, these artists hoped to infuse their compositions with as much luminosity as possible, and likewise, Veil of Mother's Tenderness appears to glow from within. Hirst himself has long been interested in the ways different colors interact with one another. In his iconic Spot Paintings, he created a meticulously ordered grid of small circles, each painted a different color. Focused on the random and infinite arrangement of color, the Spot Paintings manifest endless, eternal possibility. More recently, his Cherry Blossom paintings feature bursts of pink and white, daubs of green, black, and brown, which together form an ebullient floral celebration. Whether rigid or more gestural, what is made clear in all these works is Hirst’s devotion to color. As he has said, “I believe all painting and art should be uplifting for the viewer...I love color. I feel it inside me. It gives me a buzz” (Damien Hirst, I Want to Spend the Rest of my Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Forever, Now, London, 1997, p. 246).

As with much of Hirst’s work, which encompasses painting, installation, and sculpture, the Veil paintings confront the tenuous, fragile boundary between art and science, and thus, life and death. Mortality is an enduring frame for the artist, a thematic which unites much of his practice. Even in works which do not overtly make death their subject, it is always an underlying presence. Regarding the Veils, Hirst explained, “Now that I’m older the series are getting smaller, and that feels more realistic and wiser, maybe even more mature, although I hate to say that. I think with this series I made the right number of paintings for how I was feeling and then moved on, and maybe in my Spot paintings I was hiding from my own mortality.” (D. Hirst interviewed by A. McDonald, “In The Studio: Damien Hirst’s Veil Paintings,” Gagosian Quarterly, 4 July 2020). Joyful and expansive, Veil of Mother's Tenderness capture the artist’s enthusiasm and zest for life. Describing the series and the act of their creation, Hirst said, “They make me happy, they feel good to look at, they sort of confuse me” (D. Hirst quoted in A. Popescu, “Damien Hirst’s Post-Venice, Post-Truth World,” New York Times, 13 March 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/13/arts/design/damien-hirst-gagosian-paintings-los-angeles.html).
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