Friday, August 5, 2011

An interview with Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst will hold a simultaneous showing of 300 of his spot paintings in Gagosian’s 11 galleries around the world in early 2012.

Hirst & Hoyland

The Telegraph had Damien Hirst sit down with John Hoyland to discuss painting as a way to add some novelty to the round of press (mostly very negative) surrounding Hirst's new show of paintings:
DH: Now that I am painting more directly I wonder if all the paintings that I’ve done, like the spin paintings, are about a sort of imaginary painter, like a machine that paints. And that they were always ways for me to avoid actual painting; I think, maybe I was scared of it. I think about Max Beckmann because Beckmann always painted his canvases black before he painted them. And he said, that’s the void and everything I paint is something I place between myself and the void. You know what Germans are like! But it’s like the horror of being in a studio with a blank canvas. I used to always run out of ideas because there are so many possibilities and I would just think, well what am I going to do now! But with a spin machine, you get something moving between yourself and Beckmann’s void. And you don’t have to deal with that – you constantly get beautiful paintings.

JH: Well, yes.

DH: The same with spot paintings. It’s like ways of creating machine-made paintings to try to avoid that thing of being an artist in some way. The responsibility, maybe.

JH: Yes, well it’s a terrifying thing. It doesn’t matter how much money anybody has. You get up in the morning and you’ve had too many martinis, and you go downstairs to your studio and if there is a canvas there, you’ve got to deal with it. And it’s not easy. [...]

JH: You’re going to keep on painting away. What about your colour range; it seems to be kind of restricted?

DH: I just started that way. I did the spot paintings to solve formal problems with colour. When I used to do abstract paintings at school, like everyone else, the tutor said these would make great curtains. I would always neglect the formal stuff that was going on by using colour, because colour kind of came naturally to me. So then I did the spot paintings and chose a rigid formal structure, which is like the grid. Then I could do all that colour stuff – let’s put a blue here and a green here… browns and purples if you’re feeling down, or whatever. It was all meaningless in the end but it always looked good. So when I started painting again I just wanted to do, like, black and white. But instead I just did the blue and white. I always loved those early Bacon paintings that use Prussian blue. So I just started with that. But I’ve started bringing colour in now but I’m bringing it in slowly. I’ve one rule: whatever I’m painting I always imagine if I die in the middle of it, it’s got to look good. That it’s not something I’m embarrassed with.

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