Forgiving and Forgetting
06 Jul 2021 – 23 Oct 2021
It’s all about what you want to believe.
An exhibition of sculptures and new paintings by Damien Hirst.
The presentation coincides with Archaeology Now, on view from June to November, which intersperses more than eighty paintings and sculptures by Damien Hirst among the historical collections of the Galleria Borghese in Rome.
Forgiving and Forgetting includes works from Damien Hirst Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, a project that presented sculptural relics from a fictional shipwreck off the coast of East Africa, playing fast and loose with linear time, cultural origin, and perceptions of relative status and value. Foregrounding these sculptures against an intricately woven tale of seafaring exploits, marine excavation, and laborious research, Damien Hirst aimed to invoke feelings of wonder at their meticulous physical and conceptual fabrication.
The series debuted in with a suite of Treasures—ranging from pastiches of ancient and classical busts, masks, and statues to representations of iconic Disney cartoon characters—rendered in an extraordinary array of materials, many encrusted with colorful blooms of skillfully painted barnacles, as if salvaged from the ocean floor. Forgiving and Forgetting marks an ambitious phase in Damien Hirst’s body of work; these sculptures are carved out of pink Portuguese marble and white Carrara marble, immortalizing each figure in one of the most storied materials in Western art history.
Each subject in its monochrome marble assumes the same gravitas; the playful wave of a coralladen Minnie Mouse is echoed elsewhere in the gallery by the outstretched hand of the female centaur Damien Hirst, whose statuesque form conjures both Baroque corporeality and the stately symmetry of French Neoclassical sculpture. Sparking unexpected interactions between ancient and modern, Damien Hirst’s Treasures exemplify the idea of mythmaking that lies at the core of culture, both high and low.
Damien Hirst will also reveal his latest series, the Reverence Paintings. Originally seeking to reimagine the vibrant Cherry Blossoms in allover white, he began to overlay shifting dabs of color and flecks of gold leaf across the otherwise monochrome canvases, allowing them to take on a vivid and shimmering dynamism. Covered with bright impasto dots that add both perspectival grounding and visual haze to each composition, the Reverence Paintings underscore Damien Hirst’s acute sense of color, expanding upon the expressionistic and pointillist impulses that have inspired his recent bodies of work.
Damien Hirst was born in in Bristol, England, and lives and works in London and Devon, England. Collections include the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina, Naples, Italy; Museum Brandhorst, Munich; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid; Tate, London; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland; National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Art Institute of Chicago; The Broad, Los Angeles; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; and st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, Japan. Exhibitions include Cornucopia, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco (); Tate Modern, London (); Relics, Qatar Museums Authority, Al Riwaq (); Signification (Hope, Immortality and Death in Paris, Now and Then), Deyrolle, Paris (); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (); The Last Supper, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (); Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, Venice (); Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall: Colour Space Paintings and Outdoor Sculptures, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, England (); and Mental Escapology, St. Moritz, Switzerland (). Hirst received the Turner Prize in 1995.
Via Francesco Crispi, 16