What is Art – Damien Hirst?

Summer is here! The Queen has “Jubileed” and Wimbledon has started. I know this to be true…I was there for both! London has become the centre of the universe for me this summer (I have Olympic tickets hidden away right now too). What better, whilst in town, than to take advantage of the myriad opportunities tied up with all this and available right now.

I have been intrigued for some time by the works of a certain Mr Hirst (I can’t mention his first name as the mere mention of a “Damien” sets Carmina Burana playing in my head). I have scoffed with the rest of them about his “spin paintings” and “spot paintings”, which he doesn’t even paint himself.

Coloured spots image

I have argued against the authenticity of someone who uses an “art factory” to make money based on my perception is that the money rather than the art has been his primary driver. So, what good news while I’m in town – Tate Modern has a Hirst Exhibition that will provide an opportunity to scoff directly at some of his works. His retrospective provides the ultimate chance to prove to myself just how distasteful his work really is.

“Welcome to Tate Modern Madam”

“Thanks, yes I would like to take the full audio tour”

The narrative serves to explain some of the key concepts behind this art – useful as I’ve forgotten my glasses for the written stuff as usual. Equally importantly though everyone else has disappeared and the earphones leave just me and the art work – no distractions.

OK, so I like the colours, but pans? Pans, for goodness sake? What’s so special about pans?! And an old hairdryer, a bit like the old Morphy Richards my Mum used to have…call this art? I mean, it’s interesting and even a little bit clever but…

Cows head and flies “A Thousand Years”?! “Mother and Child Divided” Memories of rat dissections and dismembered locusts, the smell of formaldehyde all come back to me from distant biology classes. Cigarette stubs and Medicine cabinets?! Totally bizarre in my opinion, such as it is, and more the sign of OCD than the creativity of an artist…Leonardo would be turning in his grave!

But wait:

I can’t proclaim myself a convert or a prospective collector of his work, but there is a strange beauty to some of the pieces I so wanted to dislike. I will confess I was more than a little disappointed that the diamond encrusted skull had departed only 24hours before my visit. I will also confess that I rather liked the the spots and spins which had a certain je ne sais quoi. (Oh, and I did squeal a bit when one of the live butterflies tried to make good their escape by hiding on the back of my collar).

So, what is art Mr Hirst? If it’s the visual expression of things that provoke thought, feelings, discussion then I guess you have it in bucket loads. There was certainly a lot of discussion over lunch! If it’s about aesthetic appreciation then yourwork is a little more questionable in parts. I’ll leave my final judgement for now, knowing I won’t queue or rush for future tickets, but would be happy to drop by a new exhibition if I happened to be in town.

Now, where did I put that fly spray?!