I originally wanted the Spots to look like they were painted by a human trying to paint like a machine. Colour Space is going back to the human element, so instead you have the fallibility of the human hand in the drips and inconsistencies. There are still no two exact colors that repeat in each painting, which is really important to me. I think of them as cells under a microscope.
Gagosian is pleased to present Damien Hirst’s Colour Space Paintings, the first exhibition of the series in the United States, following their presentation earlier this year at Houghton Hall in England.
Evolving from the iconic Spot Paintings, which are among Hirst’s most recognized works, the Colour Space Paintings revisit the free and spontaneous nature of his first two spot paintings from 1986, exactly thirty years later. As Hirst recalls, “My first ever Spot Painting was loose and painted with drippy paint and not minimal at all. In that painting, I was wrestling with what I originally thought of as the coldness of Minimalism and the more emotional Abstract Expressionist painting style I’d grown up with. At the time I painted it, it felt uncool and I abandoned it immediately for the rigidity of the grid, removing the mess, but after doing the Spot catalogue raisonné I’ve felt really drawn to that first painting and knew I’d revisit it eventually.”
While the Spot Paintings were originally conceived as an endless series, the Colour Space Paintings are a finite body of work, commenced and completed in 2016. The latter adhere to some of the formal rules established for the Spot Paintings: no single color is ever repeated in a painting, and the dot size—ranging from one quarter of an inch to four inches in diameter—is consistent within each work. However, without the logic of the grid and the symmetry of the perfect circle, the Colour Space Paintings appear looser, more stochastic, and more open to incident than the Spot Paintings. Here, Hirst’s imperfect discs overlap and jostle in a riot of color, like so many particles under a microscope.
Colour Space directly follows Hirst’s exhibition of The Veil Paintings at Gagosian Beverly Hills, which opened in March. In the Veil Paintings, Hirst revisited his Visual Candy series of the early nineties, in which vivid colors overlap in loose ovals of thick impasto or pointillist-style dots. The Colour Space Paintings similarly reveal the interplay in his approach between the systematic and the painterly, the rational and the expressive.
Damien Hirst was born in 1965 in Bristol, England, and lives and works in London and Devon. Collections include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; The Broad, Los Angeles; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; Tate, London; Museum für Moderne Kunst (MMK), Frankfurt; Museum Brandhorst, Munich, Germany; Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donna Regina (MADRE), Naples, Italy; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), Madrid; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA), Moscow; and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. Institutional exhibitions include For the Love of God, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2008, traveled to Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, in 2010); No Love Lost, Wallace Collection, London (2009); Requiem, PinchukArtCentre, Kiev (2009); Cornucopia, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (2010); Tate Modern, London (2012); Relics, Qatar Museums Authority, Al Riwaq, Qatar (2013); Signification (Hope, Immortality and Death in Paris, Now and Then), Deyrolle, Paris (2014); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2015); Damien Hirst: New Religion, Museum of Contemporary Art of Republika of Srpska, Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina (2016, traveled to Museum of Contemporary Art Vojvodina, Novi Sad, Serbia); Damien Hirst: The Last Supper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2016); and Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Venice (2017). Hirst received the Turner Prize in 1995.