Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Damien Hirst at Tate Modern

Damien Hirst at Tate Modern 

The discussion between the Englishman and me, and many others who I overheard at the members viewing tonight, was whether Damien Hirst produced humbug or art. 

It was the first time that I had seen any of his works, and I have to say I was impressed. I particularly liked - no, that's the wrong word - was moved by the sliced up cow in formaldehyde. I would never have believed that the insides of an animal are so beautiful - again the wrong word - impressive. I felt that Damien Hirst was showing us how to appreciate nature, and I liked it.

Again I loved the colour co-ordinated pill cabinets. It made me think of my father, struggling to remember which medicines to take when. And then I thought about myself - I seem to be taking more and more pills lately; there's the vitamin C and antihistamine in the mornings, then more and more painkillers as I struggle with my latest affliction of a frozen shoulder. (Less said about that the better) This display also made me think of all the pills we take to make us feel better when we're not even ill; the uppers and the downers… 

Damien Hirst 
Lullaby, the Seasons 2002 (detail) Picture from
The Spot Paintings did nothing for me, neither did the cabinet full of live and dead (or dying) flies with a bleeding cow's (?) head. I got the point about struggle for life, greed etc., but having lived in the country close to working farms for fifteen years, flies were the last thing I wanted to observe. They drove me crazy all summer long - there was just nothing you could do to stop them coming into the house. I'd forever be cleaning flyblow off paintwork, glass, and anything and everything left out on the kitchen table. Trying to dry white washing on the line during the summer was a complete no-no. So when I was faced with Damien's fly cabinet, I just had to look away. Yet, as you can see I wrote a whole paragraph about that work of art, so in a sense it too moved me.

All in all, having been very sceptical about the Damien Hirst exhibition, I found myself defending him quite passionately as an artist afterwards. Mind you, the positive attitude to the exhibition was, I'm sure much affected by the view of St Paul's Cathedral against the darkening London sky. How could you not think anything but beautiful thoughts when faced with these views (even when it was spitting with rain)?

The Shard as seen from The Millennium Bridge

St Paul's Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge

St Paul's Cathedral a little closer up

The Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern beyond. 

Damien Hirst
Tate Modern Exhibition
4 April – 9 September 2012
£14concessions available

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