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Damien Hirst´s "Cherry Blossoms"

Recently the Fondation Cartier launched the “Cherry Blossoms” exhibition showcasing some of Damien Hirst´s colourful works at their creative space in Paris.

Damien Hirst, who graduated from Goldsmiths college in London in 1986, eventually joined the Young British Artists, dedicating themselves to experimentation and creating provocative art. His “Natural History” series, in which life-sized animals appear in formaldehyde filled tanks, became emblematic of his work.

His earlier career was inspired by abstract expressionism, “Spot” paintings being one of his more known ongoing series, in which dots erase all traces of human intervention. More recent works are his series “Colour Space” and “Veil” paintings.

Over the years Damien Hirst has received several awards including the prestigious Turner Prize. He has presented his works at the Tate Modern in London, the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana in Venice.

All his works are inter-connected in that they explore themes to do with life and death, the extremes, nature and the connection between our desires and how we process the things we see and experience around us.

The Space

In 1984, Alain Dominique Perrin, the president of Cartier International at the time, came up with the idea of offering a creative space, where artists and the public could meet in order to connect and promote the awareness of contemporary art.

The exhibition space, located in a light-filled, airy space, was designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. The house was designed in a way that large-format paintings could be easily exhibited on one floor and smaller-format artworks could be appreciated on another, always keeping lighting and spaces in mind to provide the perfect surroundings necessary for the artworks. This corporate philanthropy foundation by Cartier now works with all creative genres of contemporary art including photography, painting, video art, fashion and performance art.

The Cherry blossoms paintings

Damien Hirst combines the styles of impressionism, pointillism, and action painting in his canvases. Thick brushstrokes perfectly combine with elements of gestural painting. Having worked on this series for 3 years, Damien also mentions that the COVID-19 pandemic gave him the opportunity to connect even more intensely with his paintings and reach a point of full completion, which is not always possible when time-limits are constantly rushing painters. The space allowed him to work on several canvases at the same time.

For Alienor Roussel, a Paris art expert who visited the exhibition, the Cartier building was the perfect choice to be able to best appreciate the size of the paintings. The high room flooded with light enabled close-up viewing of the paintings as well as viewing them from a distance.

For Hirst, this series can be seen as a homage to the great artistic movements of the late 19th & 20th century. The collection of 107 canvases is divided into single panels, diptychs, triptychs, quadriptychs and even hexaptychs, all of them in large format.

“The way the brush created each dot individually, forming a 3D image, each one unique, is impressive”. Roussel further comments on the variety of colours and how, over the span of all the paintings displayed, the dots were depicted in different colour schemes. One would imagine that an entire series of cherry trees would seem monotonous and boring, however “each picture is unique. Each picture changes its focus, sometimes on the stems, sometimes on the leaves. Each painting has a different flow of the trunk. At times it has a beginning and an end, whilst occasionally the viewer would never be able to find the continuation of a trunk.” – Alienor Roussel mentions.

With this series, Damien Hirst used the cherry blossoms for their purity and fragility, but also as a symbol of the fleetingness of youth, its beauty & its inevitable culmination in death and decay. With playful irony he reinterprets the traditional subject of landscape painting.

The exhibition is open until January 2nd of 2022.

Find some more information on their webpage here.

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