Why Damien Hirst may be the most important artist of a generation.


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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)

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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.

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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?

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This is stunning.

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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.

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It’s mind boggling.

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This is kind of Goofy. (Piss take #3).

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Now he’s taking the Mickey…

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…and here it is being ‘recovered’.

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Just beautiful.

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And again.  (It’s Kate Moss.)

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Unknown Pharaoh in Blue Granite, Gold and white agate.

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Huge.

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Did the Ancient Egyptians wear nipple rings?  I suspect not.

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Two mummies.

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Piss take #4. Look closely.

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Sphynx.

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Nice boobs.

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Piss take #5.  Beautiful Pink Marble torso…

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…but look at the back of it…

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And here’s ‘the collector’

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Look at the detailing in this.

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It’s miraculous, profound, beautiful, funny and the art critics can talk a walk.

Go see it.

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David Franceyism.


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I’m indebted to George Peebles for recounting the story of David Francey who was commentating on a Celtic match in Europe in the sixties.

In a rare moment of non-concentration he missed a goal against Celtic by a Romanian player.

Asking his sidekick for details of the scorer he was met with the response “Fucked If I know”.

His commentary then went “And the scorer was the big blond striker, Fuktifano.”

 

Retina Festival 2017. (Celebrating photography at its very best)


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Get yourself along to Ocean Terminal in Leith to view the outstanding Emerging Talent show at the Image Collective Gallery on the top floor.

Retina is in its fourth year and over that period it has done more to showcase great photography in Scotland than just about anybody else.

This year is no different.  Indeed next Tuesday sees the opening of the Association of Photographers 2016 Photography Awards Show at Out of the Blue.

And there’s a great show by Hellen Van Meene and Bryn Griffiths at Summerhall until the 15th July.

But last night was about the newbies and I had the great pleasure of talking to two of them.  Both delightful human beings. Rod Penn

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In particular we had a long chat with Suzanne whose architectural series called Ethereal Industry multi layers images of beautiful industrial and agricultural units to creat a ghostly world of weird but truly beautiful structures.  She rightly won a BIPP award for this collection.

It’s brilliant.

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