You’ve heard all the laughter and snark directed at Damien Hirst’s oil painting. But there’s at least one critic who isn’t part of the wolf pack hunting down the world’s richest artist. The Telegraph‘s Richard Dorment thinks there’s more to Hirst and the artist’s upcoming show may prove him right:
About a year ago I had lunch at Sotheby’s new dining rooms, which were then decorated with so many of Hirst’s deep blue butterfly and diamond pictures that you felt enveloped in them. And let me tell you, there wasn’t a more ravishing room in London. When I first heard about the Wallace show that’s what I thought we might get – a sure-fire crowd pleaser, wraparound butterflies and diamonds on a dark blue ground, framed in gold and hung against light blue silk. What was there not to like? And so I was as surprised as anybody when I first saw the images of painted skulls, shark’s jaws, ashtrays, and glasses.
But what struck me more than anything else was how intimate these works were, how heartfelt and thoughtful. Not surprisingly for an artist who readily admits that he was teaching himself how to paint in oils, in the first works in the show he tended to work on a smaller scale where he had he has more control. He started out simple, with a Zurbaran-like still life of a skull, then a skull and lemon, then the skull, the shark the ashtray, and as the subjects became more complex so did the compositions. I didn’t quite understand why many critics in this country had been expecting Hirst to have turned into Chardin over night, but what amazed me was how accomplished the work was.
Damien Hirst: Northing Matters at the White Cube (Telegraph)