Damien Hirst, Governance, 2019, © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2019. Photo © Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. Courtesy White Cube
A new solo exhibition at the White Cube Mason’s Yard presents an unusual cross between Hirst the Grim Reaper and Hirst the mystic aesthete. In Mandalas, butterflies are the artist's latest victims. He has extracted thousands of real wings and arranged them in concentric circles to evoke the image of a mandala, a spiritual art object used as a meditative aide in Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Shinto cultures.
There can be no denying that these works are visually seductive. Some hang in a blaze of colour with iridescent wings radiating off the walls whilst others are near-black and cast a velvety sheen. The effect of their size is like that of a Rothko. They engulf you and pull you into receding centre, such is the clever trompe-l'œil effect of their hypnotic patterns.
However, where some might see life-affirming works that nod to nature's fragile beauty, others might only see a graveyard. At a time when many artists are using their practice to draw attention to environmental issues, a room filled with vitrines of amputated wings may be seen as off-colour as a khaki-clad hunter parading into the gallery with a lion carcass in tow. The general sense of outdatedness also comes from the works' strange Age of Enlightenment undertones as the petrified butterflies recall stuffy lepidoptera collections that one might find in a forgotten Wunderkammer. The exhibition as a whole sits uncomfortably with the reference to Eastern philosophies, which presumably would be at odds with such a gratuitous destruction of nature. Once again, Hirst has succeeded in creating divisive works which might set some hearts aflutter, but evoke the winged Angel of Death for others.
|What||Damien Hirst: Mandalas, White Cube review|
|Where||White Cube Mason's Yard, 25-26 Mason's Yard , London, SW1Y 6BU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Piccadilly Circus (underground)|
20 Sep 19 – 02 Nov 19, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|