Editions are not our favourite form of art. There is the criticism – usually justified – that they are an easy way to maximise profit for both artist and dealer whilst at the same time keeping as many collectors as possible moderately happy.
Rather like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst has made rather more of a virtue of repetition, a large part of his art involving multiplication even where the work is unique. After all there are of course his spot paintings – an endless repeating mantra of coloured spots, numerous repeated spin paintings, shelves and shelves of pharmecuticals and pills, diamonds by the score, butterflies by the thousand, and even breeding flies.
Yet even with this background, another batch of editioned works does not somehow seem to be an overt case of profiteering. Rather more it is another Hirst statement about the art world and reflects his methodology.
The latest exhibition at Paul Stolper reverts to his fascination with the pharmaceutical industry. Like being cast in to a miniature Alice in Wonderland world of giant ‘Drink me’ potions the gallery features shelves of giant pills, medicine bottles, pharmaceutical boxes, ampoules, syringes, a scalpel, and drug packaging that all play with concepts of scale – the tallest measuring nearly one and a half metres.
“Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art. They’re all designed to make you buy them… they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty” Hirst says.
A three metre neon sign reading ‘Schizophrenogenesis’, each letter in a different colour, lights the space. Both a warning sign and a beacon, the work entices us into the gallery, where we are confronted by ‘The Cure’; a wall of thirty silkscreen prints, each depicting a two-colour pill set against vibrant backgrounds of pop-candy colours.
This is a playground of pharmaceuticals which further Hirst’s enduring exploration of contemporary belief systems; religion, love, art and medicine. The manipulation of scale, is just one of the techniques employed by the artist to analyse the confident aesthetic of the pharmaceutical industry.
It is all rather clever and it is immensely hard not to succumb to the temptation to touch these beautifully fabricated and highly seductive objects. With prices starting in the low thousands the prices are similarly tempting.
Hirst is an easy target but once again he has his finger on the pulse and has created another excellent body of work.
For more information visit the Paul Stolper Gallery