Glee Joy, 1994



Glee Joy
610 x 455 mm | 24 x 17.9 in
Oil on canvas
Image: Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2013


This work is part of a series of paintings Hirst made between 1993 from 1995, titled ‘Visual Candy’. The paintings are characterised by their brightly coloured, irregularly-shaped smudges of oil paint, which overlap to cover the entire surface of the canvas. In 1993 a collection of the ‘Visual Candy’ paintings were included in Hirst’s first exhibition in Los Angeles at the Regens Projects, ‘Visual Candy and Natural History’.

The series title resulted from an art critic branding the spot paintings “just visual candy”, to which Hirst’s response was: “I couldn’t get it out of my head. I thought, what the fuck is wrong with visual candy?”[1] As such, the works are Hirst’s reaction to the stigma attached to art considered merely pleasing on the eye. He relates how, as a foundation-year student at Jacob Kramer College in 1983 (now Leeds College of Art), tutors likened his abstract paintings to flower-arranging and curtain designs, “and I was slaughtered. [Then] I realised there’s no reason why. What’s wrong with a fucking beauty pair of curtains? What’s wrong with fucking flowers?”[2]

[1] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ (Booth-Clibborn Editions; Reduced edition, 2005), 198

[2] Damien Hirst cited in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, ‘On the Way to Work’ (Faber and Faber, 2001), 107