Damien Hirst - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale Hong Kong Saturday, May 25, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Gagosian Gallery, London
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007

  • Literature

    Damien Hirst, Jason Beard and Millicent Wilner eds., The Complete Spot Paintings, 1986 – 2011, Damien Hirst, London and New York, 2013, pp. 518, 852 (illustrated, p. 518)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Damien Hirst rose to prominence in the 1990s as part of the first generation of the Young British Artists (YBAs). Winning the Turner Prize in 1995 cemented Hirst’s reputation as a provocateur willing to challenge long-established dogmas and taboos surrounding definitions of art, science, religion and death, and today he is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of the British contemporary art world.

    Damien Hirst’s Spot Paintings are amongst his most recognisable yet enigmatic works, in particular his Pharmaceutical series of works which draw their titles at random from a catalogue of biochemicals Hirst first encountered in the early 1990s. The title of Methanol-C (a toxic form of alcohol which can be converted to formaldehyde) is a significant example of Hirst’s ongoing search for meaning between the realms of science, death and art. Hirst’s fascination with science stemmed from a teenage preoccupation with exploring the ‘unacceptable idea’ of death (as part of this process Hirst made regular drawing visits to the Leeds anatomy school). In seeking to reconcile the idea of death in life he embraced many different forms of art, ranging from the unnatural clinical brightness of the Spot Paintings to the controversial and iconic The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living of 1991, a work comprising a museum-like glass vitrine containing a tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde.

    Hirst began experimenting with coloured spots in preparation for his breakout Freeze exhibition in 1988, painting these directly onto the wall of the warehouse. Afterwards he gradually refined his process, departing from years of spontaneous experimentation with paint and collage and instead attempting to erase any physical evidence of human intervention in his Spot Paintings. He devised a set of formal rules: no single colour ever to be repeated in the same painting, consistent dot size and shape, and a rigid grid system that would allow an infinite series of unique works to be created. It was a departure from the Abstract Expressionist painting style he had grown up with:

    “I wanted to find a way to use colour in paintings that wasn’t expressionism. I was taught by painters who believed that as an artist you paint how you feel and I believed in that for a long time. And then I lost faith in it and wanted to create a system where whatever decisions you make within a painting, the paintings end up happy. And I came up with Spot Paintings.”
    (Interview with Reuters, “A Minute With: Damien Hirst on hitting the "spot" ”, 11 January 2012, online)

    It was a happy discovery for Hirst, who described his Spot Paintings as a means of “pinning down the joy of colour” (quoted in Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London, 2001, p. 119). Though undoubtedly beautiful in their simplicity, Hirst challenges the viewer to consider the tension inherent in the rigidity of the composition and the randomness of colour, a parallel for the vibrant uniqueness of life and the rigid inevitability of death. As with all of Hirst’s works, Methanol-C belies a deeper sense of existential anxiety:

    "If you look closely at any one of these paintings a strange thing happens: because of the lack of repeated colours, there is no harmony … So in every painting there is a subliminal sense of unease; yet the colours project so much joy it’s hard to feel it, but it’s there." (Damien Hirst, I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now, London, 1997, p. 246).

    Hirst has been honoured with solo retrospectives at leading public institutions, including Damien Hirst at the Tate Modern, London (2012) and Relics at the Qatar Museums Authority , Doha (2013). Hirst’s works are held in numerous permanent collections, including the Tate in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh. The artist lives and works in London, Gloucestershire and Devon.

  • Artist Biography

    Damien Hirst

    British • 1965

    There is no other contemporary artist as maverick to the art market as Damien Hirst. Foremost among the Young British Artists (YBAs), a group of provocative artists who graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London in the late 1980s, Hirst ascended to stardom by making objects that shocked and appalled, and that possessed conceptual depth in both profound and prankish ways.

    Regarded as Britain's most notorious living artist, Hirst has studded human skulls in diamonds and submerged sharks, sheep and other dead animals in custom vitrines of formaldehyde. In tandem with Cheyenne Westphal, now Chairman of Phillips, Hirst controversially staged an entire exhibition directly for auction with 2008's "Beautiful Inside My Head Forever," which collectively totalled £111 million ($198 million).

    Hirst remains genre-defying and creates everything from sculpture, prints, works on paper and paintings to installation and objects. Another of his most celebrated series, the 'Pill Cabinets' present rows of intricate pills, cast individually in metal, plaster and resin, in sterilized glass and steel containers; Phillips New York showed the largest of these pieces ever exhibited in the United States, The Void, 2000, in May 2017.

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signed, titled and dated 'Damien Hirst "Methanol-C" 2007) on the reverse; further signed 'Damien Hirst' on the stretcher
household gloss on canvas
175.3 x 160 cm. (69 x 62 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2007.

HK$3,000,000 - 4,000,000 

Sold for HK$3,125,000

Contact Specialist

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019