New York: Controversial, price-boosting artist Damien Hirst will debut his solo exhibition “Relic” in Qatar this Fall from October 10th– January 22nd. In addition to this being Hirst’s first show in the middle east it will be his largest thus far in his career. “Relic” will be produced by Qatar Museums Authority at the Alriwaq Doha exhibition space and curated by Italian art writer, curator and critic Francesco Bonami. Prior to taking on this exhibition, Bonami has had a wildly successful career with highlights including his role as the artistic director of the Venice Biennale in 2003.
“Relic” will serve as a retrospective of the last twenty-five years of Hirst’s career. It will debut new and unseen works as well as display signature pieces such as his formaldehyde animals from “Human Nature” and his controversial diamond encrusted skull “For the Love Of God”. Although Hirst himself is from the UK, these notorious iconographic pieces have contributed to his illustrious career and reputation in the international art scene.
Throughout this past year, Qatar’s art scene has shown a trend of depicting the dialogue between the Middle East art market and the UK market. Hirst’s blockbuster exhibition will serve as a culmination of the “Qatar UK 2013 Year of Culture”.
Hirst has inspired a flux in the high-end art market both in the UK and internationally. This quality makes his show ideal for Qatar, a country with the highest per capita income in the world. This strong and ever-growing art market makes it the ideal location for Hirst to display his work.
Funding for the exhibition comes from the Sheikha Al-Mayassa who Art + Auction named the most powerful person in the art world in 2011. The Qatar art market’s environment, similar to the price driven world of Gagosian, will be the ideal setting for Hirst to thrive.
Damien Hirst, Doxylamine rom Dali to Damien Hirst, The Story by Saffronart
Manjari Sihare of Saffronart ponders over the latest news to hit the global art world
New York: Damien Hirst is in the news again. This time for his split with his primary gallery (also one of the world’s largest, but more about that later), Gagosian. After a longstanding relationship of seventeen years, the gallery and the artist are headed for a split. Why? No one knows (yet!). Even Jerry Saltz’s Facebook page (my usual go-to for art world breaking news) has no mention. All we have are amicable press statements issued from both sides wishing the other success.
And success it will be, for both Gagosian and Hirst are unstoppable. According to a recent report by The Financial Times, Gagosian’s turnover was estimated at $925m this past year. Likewise in June 2012, The Sunday Times cited Damien Hirst as the world’s wealthiest artist, with a fortune of £215m.
Damien Hirst poses in front of his work I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds
What we will miss are fruits of this lethal combo! It was the perfect marriage! Gagosian has hosted some spectacular exhibitions of the artist’s work, the most recent being a worldwide showing of Hirst’s Spot Paintings at the beginning of 2012. It also played a significant role in organizing a giant retrospective of Hirst’s work at the Tate Modern in London this summer. The exhibition went down in the institution’s history as the most popular one drawing almost half a million visitors.
The artist-gallery relationship is tricky as it is often ruled by power, from opposite points of view. There is no one-size-fits-all model. But Hirst has always been his own master, right from the beginning. He first came into news in 1988 when still as a student at London’s Goldsmith’s College, he curated an exhibition in an abandoned warehouse to show his and his peer’s work. In 2008, he broke the art market convention of selling only through representative galleries. He side-stepped both his primary galleries, Gagosian in New York and White Cube in London to hold an auction of his works (mostly new) in London. Interestingly this auction coincided with the fall of Lehmann Brothers and the beginning of the global financial crisis of 2008-09, but was a success nonetheless.
What does Hirst’s news coincide with this time? Is it the first sign of Apocalypse 2012 – an “artpocalypse” perhaps? Definitely not! In an industry where most relationships are made on a hand shake, none of these splits are carved in stone. Stay tuned for more on this story and other art world news in 2013!
London: For the few people who may not be familiar with Damien Hirst’s works, they can be categorized in three broad groups: colourful spots, medicine cabinets, and animals preserved in formaldehyde. However, the spot paintings are perhaps the most predominant element of his body of work, and definitely my favourite one.
Since the 1980s, the artist has been investigating the complex relationship between life, death and art using different media. He is one of the main figures of the collective known as the Young British Artists, who led the British art scene in the 1990s. Over the years, Hirst achieved international fame and success, and at one point was known as the world’s richest living artist. His works have always been quite controversial, but this is perhaps one of the reasons for his popularity and celebrity.
At the beginning of 2012, in conjunction with Larry Gagosian, Hirst planned to exhibit his spot paintings at Gagosian Gallery’s locations all over the world. So from January to March, every Gagosian Gallery was surrendered to the artist’s spot works. From New York and Los Angeles to London, Rome, Athens, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva more than 300 paintings by Hirst were exhibited in Gagosian’s spaces.
Most of the works were lent by private collectors or public institutions, which made the exhibitions quite different depending on the location. For example, the round canvases were very popular in America, while the irregularly-shaped ones received great success in Europe and especially London.
Among the many works on display were the first ever spot painting made by Hirst in 1986, the smallest spot painting measuring 1 x ½ inches, the largest spot painting depicting four spots each measuring 60 inches in diameter and the most recent one, dated 2011, comprising 25,781 spots! In the last, each of the spots measures 1 millimeter in diameter, and no colour has been used more than once.
Speaking about his spot paintings, Hirst noted: “I was always a colorist, I’ve always had a phenomenal love of color… I mean, I just move color around on its own. So that’s where the spot paintings came from—to create that structure to do those colors, and do nothing. I suddenly got what I wanted. It was just a way of pinning down the joy of color.”
From Damien Hirst, to Yayoi Kusama and Bharti Kher (allowing myself to compare bindis to colourfully painted dots) the spot seems to be firmly entrenched in the world of contemporary art and fashion. So why not take advantage of the Hirst spot print on sale at The Story by Saffronart and become part of this trend?
More information on Damien Hirst’s “The Complete Spot Paintings” can be found on the Gagosian Gallery website and on Hirst’s website.
A large retrospective of this celebrated artist was organized by the Tate Modern, London earlier this year. Read more.
Manjari Sihare in conversation with the Director of the ARKEN Museum, Christian Gether
Copenhagen: On August 18, 2012, a large conglomeration of visual and performing artists, filmmakers, fashion designers, authors, business professionals and scientists from India descended upon the city of Copenhagen for a much awaited project hosted by a mix of premier Danish institutions including the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art, the CPH Pix Festival, the Royal Danish Theatre, the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen Business School. Titled India Today-Copenhagen Tomorrow, this massive Indian-Danish culture project is aimed to acquaint Danes with modern India and its vibrant culture and dynamic economy. The project was inaugurated with a large exhibition of contemporary Indian art and fashion at the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art. Located 15 minutes south of Copenhagen, the museum is known for its modern and contemporary art exhibitions, one of the most important public collections of iconic British artist, Damien Hirst, and its building structure in the shape of a ship in marine surroundings. The art exhibition titled India: Art Nowis the museum’s biggest exhibition ever. Participating artists include Rina Banerjee, Hemali Bhuta, Atul Dodiya, Sheela Gowda,Shilpa Gupta, Subodh Gupta, Jitish Kallat, Reena Saini Kallat, Rashmi Kaleka, Bharti Kher, Ravinder Reddy, Vivan Sundaram and the artist duo Thukral & Tagra. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to speak with Christian Gether, the Director of the ARKEN Museum, about this exhibition and the museum’s programming and collection.
Vivan Sundaram, Aztec Deity, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.
Q. Could you please tell us a little about the project India Today-Copenhagen Tomorrow? Please also throw some light on the choice of title?
A: We are deeply fascinated by India. It is a nation with a tremendous tradition and a very dynamic relation to the rest of the world. From this a very energetic and interesting art scene has arisen. We are convinced that the Indian way of thinking today will play an important role in the way that Copenhagen will develop tomorrow. Hence the title.
Q. How did the idea for this project come about? Why India?
A: For a long time we have been interested in showing contemporary art from India, as India is the next focus point for international art collectors. We were then approached by The Holck Larsen Foundation which is established by one of the founders of the construction company L&T (Larsen and Toubro India) which said: If you will produce an exhibition on contemporary art from India, then we will pay the costs. So our wish of showing contemporary art from India suddenly came true.
Rina Banerjee, Preternatural passage came from wet whiteness and mercantile madness, paid for circular migrations, she went thirty six directions that is all the more different, where empire threw her new born and heritage claimed as well, this lady bug was not scarlet her wound was rather shaped like garlic seemed colored, a bit more sulfuric, could eat what was fungus her cloth punctuated by tender greenness she seemed to be again pregnant, 2011. Courtesy of Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris-Bruxelles
Q. I understand that the selection of the 13 artists in the show is made with the intention of revealing dimensions that extend beyond ideas of an ‘exotic’ India. For decades Indian art has been plagued with the term ‘exotic’. How did this conceptual framework come about?
A: In the art circles of today, a hot topic is ‘migratory aesthetics’. That is the new visual expression that arises from the dialogue between a local culture and the global impact. What we have tried to do is to show the art that is a synthesis of the Indian and the global culture. Indians are very open-minded and they travel and settle all over the world – and they have English as their common language so there is no barrier between the Indians and the rest of the world. Therefore they take in the best of the global culture and combine it with their experience of existence in India. A new visual language is established which fascinates the rest of the world. That is what we found unfolded in the 13 selected artists in the show.
Q. Some of the works are especially commissioned for the show? Could you elaborate on these works?
Rashmi Kaleka, Chhota Paisa (Small Change), 2012 Surround sound installation with video component Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Arts Counsil Pro Helvetica in 2011-12
Jitish Kallat, The Cry of the Gland, 2009. Courtesy of Haunch of Venison, London
A: One of them is an audio installation by Rashmi Kaleka titled Chotta Paisa.When we saw Rashmi Kaleka’s work at her house in Delhi we were immediately deeply fascinated. With a modern recording device, the video camera, she had registered the early morning on the roofs of Delhi and combined it with the sounds of the street vendors and other sounds from a metropolis that is wakening. It is an intense revelation of a common daily ritual that we can all relate to.
The other is Jitish Kallat’s work where he has produced at series of photos of shirt pockets filled with notebooks pencils and rulers, which signalizes identity and importance of the owner. It is a very accurate observation on symbols of power structures in a society.
Q. What are some of the highlights of the exhibition?
A: I am very keen on Subodh Gupta’s installation with the brass pinnacles, which are bound together with thin, but strong strings. It shows the dialogue and interdependence of different religions. Ravinder Reddy’s women heads are also fascinating because they refer to a classical Indian tradition and to modern pop art simultaneously. It is Indian in the modern world.
Subodh Gupta, Terminal, 2010. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Anders Sune Berg
Ravinder Reddy, Untitled, 2007-08, Courtesy: Private Collection, India
Q. The project has an important online and social media component to facilitate exchange in the form of Co-Create Now–an online platform facilitating conversations, inspiration and exchange of experiences between Indians and Danes. Please elaborate.
A: Here at ARKEN we are extremely focused on the dialogue with our visitors. We reach out to everybody on different media platforms and like to involve the visitor as much as possible. We would like to have the visitor to employ his or her own experience of existence in a mental dialogue with the experience of existence which you find in the art work. Thereby the visitor becomes wiser on himself and on life as such.
Q. How has the response to the exhibition been?
A: The response has been overwhelmingly positive. The critics love the exhibition and so do the visitors.
Q. The Arken Museum has an active acquisition policy for international contemporary art mostly from the 1990 onwards. Are there any works of Indian artists in the collection? Could you tell us about the museum’s future acquisition plans for Indian art, if any?
A: We do not have any works of Indian origin in the permanent collection, but hopefully we soon will. I cannot reveal any names, but of course we are very fascinated by the artists that we have selected for the exhibition. We hope to find a private benefactor who will help us to buy art from India.
Q. What are some of the highlights in the museum’s collection?
A: We have one of the world’s biggest public collections of works by Damien Hirst. It was established with the help of a private donor and the great support by Damien Hirst himself and the owner of White Cube in London, Jay Joplin.
We have a fantastic video by Bill Viola called ‘Silence , Gold and Silver’ which we bought many years ago when we could still afford it. The same applies to our big installation by Mona Hatoum which we also bought more than 10 years ago.
Recently we acquired nine huge works by Anselm Reyle, also with the help of a private donor. Otherwise it would be completely impossible as most art museums have very tight budgets nowadays. To make these big and important purchases we need private donors who will help us get the best art pieces. That also applies to our wish for including art from India.
Anselm Reyle, Wagon Wheel, 2009 Photo: Per Morten Abrahamsen
Q. Which exhibitions over the past few years has been a particular source of pleasure for you?
A: I think that INDIA TODAY for a very long time will have a special place in my heart. It has been a fantastic experience to get to know a little corner of the contemporary art scene in India – and it has been a great experience to meet the dynamic culture in India and also the kindness and generosity of the Indian people. Earlier on we have made big exhibitions on artists such as Edvard Munch, Chagall, Dali, German Expressionism and contemporary art from Berlin etc. Recently we had a colossal exhibition by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. All good art is fascinating and unforgettable.
Q. Which exhibitions in the next few years would you recommend? Is there anything else related to Indian art on the cards?
A: If we have the possibility i.e. money, we would like to expand our relation to art from India by including Indian art works. In the coming years I can mention a show by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera. We will also show Picasso, and in 2015 we will show Monet. In addition to that we will show a series of contemporary artists from all over the world. In that series it is very likely that we include artists from India.
India: Art Now is on view until January 13, 2013. Read more.
Thukral & Tagra, THE ESCAPE! Resume/Reset, 2012. Courtesy Thukral & Tagra Studio and Gallery Nature Morte
London: TheLeicester Square “Flameship” branch of Burger King announced recently that it will display a work by Damien Hirst until the end of the year. Titled ‘Beautiful Psychedelic Gherkin Exploding Tomato Sauce All Over Your Face, Flame Grilled Painting, 2003’, it is part of the artist’s well know series of ‘spin paintings’. The second part of the title perfectly fits with Burger King’s style since the company often highlights their flame-grilled items in many of their ads.
The painting has been installed in the upper floor of the fast-food franchise, and will be protected by reinforced glass to avoid splashes of ketchup and stains from chips.
The decision to hang this painting by Damien Hirst was taken, predicting the advent of hordes of tourists that would visit Burger King given that the Olympic Games are being held in London this summer. The company also thought it would be a good marketing move, attracting more people to its outlets, especially since one of its competitors, McDonalds, is sponsoring the Olympic Games.
Django Fung, the Leicester Square franchisee, commented on the issue, saying, “I love the novelty of Damien’s artwork being in such an unexpected place. Art should be accessible to everyone, especially in such a busy summer, and putting this painting in our new look Burger King restaurant in such a high-profile location does just that.” Fung, according to the company, is also a personal friend of Hirst’s.
The artist has already donated an artwork to another restaurant in London, Tramshed. This time the donation, titled ‘Cock and Bull’, consisted of a Hereford cow and cockerel preserved in a steel glass tank of formaldehyde.
While, the Tramshed Hirst may either inspire or discourage its customers to eat at the restaurant (it would definitely discourage me), at least Burger King chose a more subtle work, not as provocative but still showcasing Hirst’s characteristic style.