Provenance White Cube, London Gagosian, New York Private collection Sale: Sotheby's New York, Contemporary Art, November 15, 2006 Lot 552 Acquired by the present owner from the above
Exhibited London, Gagosian Gallery, Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011. January 12 -February 18, 2011
Literature Damien Hirst, i want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now, London, 1997, p. 245 (illustrated)
“ The colors project so much joy it’s hard to feel it, but it’s there. The horror underlying everything.” DAMIEN HIRST
Introduced in 1986, Damien Hirst’s Pharmaceutical paintings have become his most widely recognized series to date. Appearing both structurally and spatially uniform, these rainbow freckled grids bewitch the mind, presenting one with a truly patternless pattern. The present lot, Levorphanol, 1995, is a well calculated testament to the pharmaceutical industry, contrasting the stimulation of color with the cold sedative of calculated form. Here, the evidence of the artist’s hand is simultaneously absent and present. The current lot, Levorphanol, 1995, employs the same famous, yet sterile grid pattern as the rest of the Pharmaceutical series. The rigid framework, in tandem with the precise execution of dots, alludes to the bleak nature of mass-produced drugs.
Though some dots may seem identical, each one is slightly different, creating a disorienting effect. Like the drugs from which these paintings derive their names, the paintings are marketed with bright, eye-catching colors to lure in the viewer, while hiding their true effect until fully absorbed. The right triangle shape of the canvas reflects this unease in drawing attention to the void beneath. The viewer considers the brightly colored grid and expects a square shape to match the layout of the dots. Hirst, however, confines the grid to an unexpected shape; leaving the viewer to try and reconcile the grid with the void. Levorphanol, 1995, keeps true to its subject, leaving the viewer blissfully disoriented and wanting more, simultaneously.