Damien Hirst flutters round the cosmos on butterfly wings – Mandalas review

The Guardian Entertainment 2 months ago

Countless butterfly wings spin around Damien Hirst new paintings, in expanding circles of iridescence. These wheels of brightness seem to have a light inside them, a neon heart, but it’s just how the light in the gallery reflects off the wings. Ultramarine blue, fire orange, ebony black – the fabulous paint chest of nature is raided to hypnotic and alluring effect.

Is this extravagant use of bits of animals unethical? If so, the Natural History Museum is a far worse sinner, with its millions of animal specimens. Ever since he started making art in the late 1980s, Hirst has claimed the same privilege for art that science has taken for granted since the 17th century – to pin the natural world to a table, to dissect and examine it. Except that his specimens are not explained or analysed. At his most imaginative, as he is in this show, Hirst metamorphoses science into sheer wonder. He wants you to feel the awe-inspiring miracles of life. What if you were in the sea with a shark swimming towards you, mouth open? Or a forest full of multicoloured butterflies?

‘Hirst metamorphoses science into sheer wonder’ … Governance from Mandalas. Photograph: Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. DACS 2019

This exhibition reminds you what makes Hirst such a special artist: that manic impulse to celebrate, to praise, that in these mystical, ecstatic paintings soars to strange religious heights. What does he believe in? Can he say? But he has to worship.

Hirst comes on like a 21st-century Turner. He also resembles Matisse in the Vence Chapel the painter designed on the French Riviera. For this is an exhibition that worships light as reverently as those two prophets of colour. Yet Hirst unleashes hues neither of them ever managed. He can do that because his colours are not mixed on a palette but are a collage of the wondrous wings of insects. Appropriation becomes ecstasy.

The wheels inside wheels of precisely placed biological remains that create these hypnotic shifts of shade and colour are inspired by the mandalas or cosmic maps that feature in several Asian religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. He gives each of his Mandalas a title that fits its woozy psychedelia: Deity, Transfiguration, Radiance. He’s not leaving any doubt about the religious theme.

Yet there are Christian as well as Buddhist implications. A wheeling pattern of blues and yellows is called Martyr and looks to me like a rose window in a gothic cathedral. The biggest and most stupefying work is called The Creator. Nocturnal butterfly colours arranged on a colossal scale create orbits that spill beyond the six-metre wide array of panels that hold them. Mandalas and rose windows were invented long before Edwin Hubble proved there are galaxies beyond our own: they seem to anticipate the discovery that space is full of giant wheeling discs of light.

Stupefying … Subservience by Damien Hirst. Photograph: Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. DACS 2019.

So the geometric splendour of Hirst’s curious and obsessive creations is an image of the universe and our place in it. Galaxies whirl while planets and asteroids follow their orbits through the solar system. All these orbits within orbits are suggested by Hirst’s epic aids to meditation, but at the centre of each is one complete butterfly. All the radiating intricacies of the universe are concentrated in a single delicate creature.

The butterfly is an impossible thing, a staggering expression of life that flutters through a cosmos full of light and energy. It is one of art’s most worthwhile tasks to make us look at the beauty of our world – and if you open your mind to what’s on these walls, setting aside any prejudices about Hirst and his wealth, you’ll find an artist in awe of life. Exploiting nature? He worships it.


Source link
Read also:
Business Insider › Finance › 1 month ago
Chicken wings are always in season. I tried the wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, Hooters, TGI Friday's, Bonchon Chicken, and Wingstop to see who had the best chicken wings. Turns out Korean import Bonchon had the best chicken wings: immaculately crispy and...
Chicago Tribune › 1 month ago
Winnetka kindergartners spread their wings at annual butterfly migration
New York Post › 1 month ago
Watch the amazing moment a monarch butterfly’s life was saved after a wing transplant. Katie VanBlaricum, 36, pulled off the intricate task using a glass plate, superglue and a wing from a deceased butterfly. Along with being a volunteer at her local...
Telegraph › Entertainment › 1 month ago
For an 18th century squire, having George Stubbs paint your prize thoroughbred was the greatest of honours.
The Inquisitr › Entertainment › 1 month ago
The Masked Singer returns this week and will feature contestants from the first round of competition. The Butterfly will be one of the stars ready to grace the stage for the second time in hopes of making it through to the next round. Warning: Possible...
Alternet › 3 weeks ago
Texas tornadoes are potentially caused by the “flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil,” according to the Butterfly Effect theory. Determining the ultimate cause and effects in weather is a tough call,…
Forbes › Finance › 1 month ago
A foundation linked to Qatar’s ruling family has won the latest stage in a long-running dispute over a multi-billion-dollar hospital in Doha, famous for its sculptures by artist Damien Hirst.
Evening Standard › 2 weeks ago
The prestigious terrace in Regent's Park is already home to a number of high profile celebs and has hosted parties attended by royalty and prime ministers.
Business Insider › Finance › 1 month ago
KFC added chicken wings to its permanent menu on Thursday. The wings are available in four flavors: Nashville Hot, Buffalo, Honey BBQ, and classic (without sauce.) We gathered a team of taste testers to give these wings a subjective evaluation. The...
Telegraph › 5 days ago
Astronomers have warned that the exponential number of satellites being sent into orbit in the coming months risked “cutting us off from the cosmos” for good.
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google
OR