If Claude Monet’s Water Lilies and Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers were masterstrokes in depicting flowers on canvas, we can safely say that Damien Hirst’s Cherry Blossoms series is the contemporary match to these iconic works of art.
Hirst’s Cherry Blossoms series reinterprets the notions of landscape painting by enveloping the spectator in a vastly exuberant floral landscape moving between figuration and abstraction.
In fact, for the first time in his career, the Bristol-born artist is landing himself a museum debut in France to showcase this series – a project that took three-years-in-the-making – at Fondation Cartier from June 1 to January 2 next year.
While the full collection Hirst worked on till November 2020 amassed a whopping total of 107 canvases (including large format single panels, diptychs, triptychs, quadriptychs, and a hexaptych), a curation of just 30 paintings will make it to the Fondation Cartier exhibition.
“I’ve had a romance with painting all my life, even if I avoided it. As a young artist, you react to the context, your situation. In the 1980s, painting wasn’t really the way to go.”Damien Hirst
Pivoting away from the more experimental and provocative artworks like his emblematic Natural History series of the ’90s (remember those animals in formaldehyde-filled tanks?), the Cherry Blosssoms series reveals his inherent love of painting and takes a poetic examination of the beauty in life and death.
A close up of his Cherry Blossoms painting shows how Hirst has adopted thick brushstrokes and elements of gestural painting which references the techniques adopted from the Impressionist, Pointillism, and Action Painting movements.
As Hirst puts it, the flowers are “about beauty and life and death” and sees him moving from minimalism to embrace this persona of an imaginary mechanical painter.
Of the garish works, he says: “They’re extreme – there’s something almost tacky about them. Like Jackson Pollock twisted by love. They’re decorative but taken from nature. They’re about desire and how we process the things around us and what we turn them into, but also about the insane visual transience of beauty – a tree in full crazy blossom against a clear sky.”
Keen to get a quick peek at some of the paintings that will be heading to Paris? Simply scroll below.