The critics (generally) loathe Damien Hirst. They despise his art ‘factory’ They don’t like his populist approach to creating art.
They see him as an arrogant upstart with a pop sensibility.
They mistrust his popularity among ‘consumers’.
I love him.
And I love him even more having made a trip to Venice specially to see his “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable.”
It’s a massive piss take on an incomprehensible scale. (194 pieces created by 250 craftspeople in 5 countries)
As the show notes state (all a lie) in 2008 a vast wreckage was discovered off the coast of East Africa. A wealthy ex slave, Cif Amotan II, (an anagram of I am a fiction) accumulated a vast collection of artefacts the length and breadth of the ancient world (oh, and Disney). The treasures were brought together on board a ship called the Apisos (translated from Koine Greek as the ‘Unbelievable‘) destined for a purpose built temple the ship sank in the Indian Ocean and lay there for two thousand years before being discovered in 2008.
Many of the pieces (prior to ‘restoration’) are encrusted in barnacles, corals and other marine life.
The show opens with a video of the plundering of the ship’s contents (in actual fact these are Hirst’s creations dropped onto the seabed for immediate recovery. It’s all staged.)
Set in two massive palaces (the Palazzo Grassi and the Punto Della Dogana) you are met in the colossal atrium of Palazzo Grassi by the show’s spectacular centrepiece Demon with a bowl.
It stands 18 metres tall and although it’s made of Resin it appears to be bronze.
Your jaw literally drops.
Then begins the journey.
Most of the pieces are cast in bronze with painted coral and underwater flora and fauna. Some of these are simply breathtaking in their beauty. But there are also pieces made from Jade, Malachite, Gold, Silver, Cararra and Pink marble,
Here we go…
Piss take #1. How exactly did this appear on the floor of the Indian Ocean in 100 AD?
This is stunning.
I mean, at auction these pieces will sell for millions (individually).
This piece is called Andromeda and the Sea Monster and measures 4 metres by 6 metres and is made entirely of bronze.
It’s mind boggling.
This is kind of Goofy. (Piss take #3).
Now he’s taking the Mickey…
…and here it is being ‘recovered’.
And again. (It’s Kate Moss.)
Unknown Pharaoh in Blue Granite, Gold and white agate.
Did the Ancient Egyptians wear nipple rings? I suspect not.
Piss take #4. Look closely.
Piss take #5. Beautiful Pink Marble torso…
…but look at the back of it…
And here’s ‘the collector’
Look at the detailing in this.
It’s miraculous, profound, beautiful, funny and the art critics can talk a walk.
Go see it.