“The Spin Paintings gather and amalgamate the individuality of every individual colour, introducing a mechanical rotating movement at the moment of execution, to make the colours participate in a primordial state where order, and creation dissolve and disengage from the mediation of thought and representation, to become pure expression of the basic and vital gesture of painting and its mythology.” (M. CODOGNATO, quoted in ‘Warning Labels’, in Damien Hirst, exh. cat., Museo Archeological Nazionale, Naples, 2004, p. 42)
A hypnotic disc of canvas suffused with centrifugal explosions of vivid colour, Damien Hirst’s Beautiful Late Spin Painting, completed between 2008 and 2009, forms part of his iconic spin painting series. The work contains strata of paint described in warm tones of vermillion red, canary yellow and orange, offset by cool bursts of juniper and emerald greens and violet that pulsate from the canvas with kinetic energy. Hirst’s technique of pouring household gloss onto a mechanically rotating canvas instils the work with palpable sense of movement. By dripping the paint upon a machine, Hirst withdraws his own artistic hand, introducing an air of unpredictability that rejects conscious thought and defies artistic convention. Hirst’s mechanical application of dripping paint parodies the personal creative expression of Jackson Pollock’s action paintings, while his rejection of manual intervention alludes to the audacity of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades. Works such as Beautiful Late Spin Painting can be read as a nostalgic homage to childhood freedom and a celebration of technology, as well as an examination of the pandemonium of human existence. Hirst discloses that it was John Noakes’ demonstration of spin painting in a 1975 episode of the long-running British television programme Blue Peter that in part inspired his artistic creativity as a child and later formed the source of inspiration for his spin paintings. The spin series was inaugurated in 1993 when Hirst and fellow artist Angus Fairhurst hosted a spin art stall at a street fair, dressed as clowns designed by performance artist Leigh Bowery. The series has since become a hallmark of Hirst’s practice, marking a departure from the rigid organization of Hirst’s spot paintings and from the themes of death and decay that characterize his formaldehyde works. Instead, works such as Beautiful Late Spin Painting engross the beholder in their liberated surge of colour across canvas.