Critics dissect Hirst’s ‘derivative’ new exhibition
Damien Hirst’s exhibition of paintings has been dismissed as ‘turgid teen angst stuff’
Damien Hirst, modern art's richest provocateur, has angered the critics again. But this time they're not shocked by anything that he's dissected, or astounded by the amount he's earned. They're simply furious at how bad his latest show is.
In an exhibition called No Love Lost, Blue Paintings, Hirst is showing 25 pictures at the normally conservative Wallace Collection in London. Influenced by his hero Francis Bacon, Hirst has spoken of how these works are "deeply connected to the past". Dark, brooding and sparse, they feature some of his favourite motifs: shark jaws; skulls; ashtrays and spots.
And they've inspired almost universal condemnation. Perhaps the worst review came from Tom Lubbock, the art critic at the Independent, who described the works as 'derivative', 'weak' and 'boring', and claimed that the Wallace Collection had only put on the show because of Hirst's fame.
"To try and be accurate, as a painter, Hirst is about at the level of a not very promising first-year art student. He is in his mid-forties," Lubbock wrote. "There are dozens of youngsters who turn up at our art schools each year, doing this turgid teen angst stuff. And many of them are deluded enough, in their innocence, to think that their work is 'deeply connected to the past'. Their teachers have to scold and embarrass them out of these bad habits."
Rachel Campbell-Johnson also questioned what this show was doing in a museum usually reserved for Rembrandts and Titians, and suggested that it had something to do with Hirst financing the £250,000 exhibition, and a gallery refurbishment, himself. Writing in the Times, Campbell Johnson described the works as 'dreadful', the metaphors as 'ham-fisted' and one still-life lemon as 'O-level'. She compared entering the gallery to going into a teenage boy's bedroom. "You can almost smell the brooding odours of existential angst."
Nor was Adrian Searle of the Guardian impressed; he felt that Hirst was trying too hard to emulate Bacon, and lacked the necessary theatricality and grandeur. "I want to be encouraging," Searle wrote, "It's tough, trying to out-paint your influences, tougher still to keep failing at it so publicly. As a painter, I too tried and failed. Whatever his borrowings, Hirst did all this himself, unaided by his armies of assistants. He fills up his art with dead things: even the iguanas look stuffed. But these paintings are a momento mori for a reputation." ·
Comments are now closed on this article