Damien Hirst is one of the most prominent artists of his generation and the most visible member of the Y.B.As, (Young British Artists). His widely recognised and often controversial works include a dead shark suspended in formaldehyde, a dissected cow and her calf, two huge windowless exhibition rooms swirling with live tropical butterflies hatched from pupae pinned to canvasses, not to mention the outrageously extravagant diamond-encrusted skull with a cool price-tag of £50million.
Hirst’s work calls into question our awareness and convictions about the boundaries that separate life and death, beauty and horror, reason and faith, desire and fear, and the tireless theme of love and hate. Often using the iconography of science and religion, Hirst creates sculptures and paintings whose intensity transcends our familiar understanding of these concepts.
The spot paintings are amongst some of Hirst’s most widely recognised works. They take on widely different grid and colour formulas and vary in size, from huge canvasses containing spots 60 inches wide to miniscule canvasses containing thousands of spots the size of pinholes.
In 2012 the Gagosian gallery exhibited over 300 spot paintings across eleven gallery spaces worldwide. Conceived of as a single exhibition, “The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011” fulfilled Hirst’s longstanding ambition to show the works together. He explained in 2000 of the idea of an installation of multiple spot paintings:- “It’s an assault on your senses. They grab hold of you and give you a good shaking. As adults, we’re not used to it. It’s an amazing fact that all objects leap beyond their own dimension.”
During this worldwide exhibition Hirst challenged art fans to visit each and every one of the eleven galleries and in return he promised to reward successful participants with a personally dedicated spot print. Undeterred by the lack of any indication as to size or composition, 128 globe-trotting wannabe recipients of a signed-Hirst invested their time and money in completing the challenge. The artist responded generously. Each spot-chaser became the lucky recipient of a giant-sized silk-screen print containing 420 one-inch spots, each spot having required a different screen as Hirst’s spots never repeat a colour.
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