Beyond Belief

2 June 2007 – 6 July 2007
Solo Exhibition. White Cube, Hoxton Square and Mason’s Yard, London, United Kingdom.

Installation view. Photographed by Stephen White © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012

‘Beyond Belief’ constituted an exploration into our relationship with the concepts of life and death. Alongside twelve sculptural works, Hirst unveiled two new large series of paintings: a collection of ‘Fact’ paintings – the ‘Birth’ series; and the ‘Biopsy’ paintings. Twenty-one ‘Birth’ paintings were shown, (‘Birth (Cyrus)’ (2006)), based on photographs taken by Hirst at the birth of his third son, Cyrus. The ‘Biopsy’ paintings render images of diseased cells in magnified inkjet and collage.

The focal work of the exhibition was ‘For the Love of God’ (2007). Described by the artist as “victory over death,” the work is a platinum cast of a skull inlaid with 8,601 flawless diamonds.[1]

A number of the seven new ‘Natural History’ works exhibited were realisations of drawings made by Hirst in the early 90s. Amongst these was ‘Death Explained’ (2007), a tiger shark bisected longitudinally, for which Hirst made fabrication plans in 1991. Other new pieces included ‘Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain’ (2007), in which the Christian martyr is represented by a black calf preserved in formaldehyde, tied to a steel post and repeatedly pierced with arrows.

A publication produced on the occasion of ‘Beyond Belief’ contained texts by Rudi Fuchs and Will Self and an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist ‘(Other Critieria/White Cube, 2007). 

‘The Making of the Diamond Skull’, a book containing in-depth analytical studies conducted upon the original skull used to cast ‘For the Love of God’ (2007), also accompanied the exhibition (Other Criteria, 2007).

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Hans Ulrich Obrist, ‘An Interview’, ‘Beyond Belief’ (Other Criteria/White Cube, 2008), 30