Self Portrait Mexico, 2007 - 2008

overview

Data

Self Portrait Mexico
2007 - 2008
670 x 612 mm | 26.4 x 24.1 in
Oil on newspaper mounted on canvas
Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

Context

“Everything I’ve ever done has been about painting, I think. About the road to painting in some way.”[1]

In 2006, Hirst started work on a new series of paintings made without studio assistants. After three years working largely in a small studio in the garden of his home in Devon, the artist exhibited a selection of the works as part of ‘Requiem’ – Pinchuk Art Centre’s major Damien Hirst survey in 2009.

Hirst, who has stated that “art is always the map of a person’s life”, considers the paintings to be a natural progression within his practice.[2] As he explains: “I think [the ‘Blue Paintings’] are all about trying to make sense of the world … There’s no one looking at me. It’s become much more personal and it kind of works for me.”[3] Whilst one of his earliest and most important artistic influence is the painter Francis Bacon, Hirst has frequently cited Max Beckmann’s references to the ‘void’ of infinite possibilities available within painting. The early twentieth century described, “this unending void whose foreground we constantly have to fill with stuff of some sort in order not to notice its horrifying depth.”[4] From around 1988, Hirst resolved the problems he had with this ‘void’ through his series of spot paintings and, later, spin paintings. The formulaic or machine-made approach to these works provided a means of creating what the artist describes as “an unfailing formula for brightening up people’s fucking lives”.[5] He considers the spots and spins to be “paintings on the road to painting ... a conceptual way of avoiding painting”.[6] By way of contrast, Hirst found that these new paintings’ allowed a far more personal approach: “All that expression – doubts, fears, everything – can come out in this arena.”[7]

‘Self Portrait Mexico’ is one of a number of new paintings Hirst made on newspaper. He explains their fabrication process: “When I’m painting, say, a skull, I press newspaper onto the wet surface to make it dry quicker; to lift odd excess paint ... I’d been chucking them on the floor, but then I realised I liked them in their own right.”[8]



[1] Damien Hirst cited in Interview with Gordon Burn, Claridges’s, 30.06.09, ‘Nothing Matters’, (White Cube/Other Criteria, 2009), 12

[2] Damien Hirst cited in Essay, Gordon Burn, ‘Requiem II’ (Other Criteria/PinchukArtCentre, 2009), 17

[3] Damien Hirst cited in Interview with Gordon Burn, Claridges’s, 30.06.09, ‘Nothing Matters’, (White Cube/Other Criteria, 2009), 12

[4] Max Beckmann (1915) cited in Megan Craig, ‘Levinas and James: toward a pragmatic phenomenology’ (Indiana, 2010) 189

[5] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 145

[6] Damien Hirst cited in Interview with Gordon Burn, Claridges’s, 30.06.09, ‘Nothing Matters’, (White Cube/Other Criteria, 2009), 17

[7] ibid., 19

[8] ibid., 12