Damien Hirst: Pickled Carcasses meet Colourful Abstraction at Gagosian

Why We Recommend it

Art world provocateur par excellence Damien Hirst brings to Hong Kong a jarring juxtaposition of cheerful abstract paintings with his signature grim animal corpses.


Polarizing conceptual artist and leading member of Young British Artists, Hirst rose to prominence in the 1990s backed by advertising tycoon Charles Saatchi, swiftly becoming an art superstar.

A natural showman with an adroitness for wordplay, trend anticipation and provocation, Hirst’s attention-grabbing works divide audiences in a way that drives discourse on the contemporary art market.

He is particularly known for his pickled animal carcass installations he has been bringing to galleries for decades, among which his shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde might be the most recognizable.

Hirst’s second show in Hong Kong offers an array of dead animals to gaze upon, including a mammal’s head lying in a gleaming pool of blood on the floor, alongside calves peering out from inside clear blue tanks.

Offsetting these characteristically grim and offbeat visages are pleasure-inducing, vibrant abstract works hanging on the walls. These works are instantly gratifying to look at, and rather simplistic, featuring trendy, unchallenging colour schemes.

The overall effect of the show Visual Candy and Natural History is a rather controlled sensory experience of frivolous joy meeting Hirst’s disconcerting and wonky, grim reality. This is an experience not unlike that of consuming media of many forms today, although without the chaos.

Perhaps that clinical, suavely-curated nature of the exhibit is what makes it rather satisfying to take in, providing a temporary and cool respite from the emotionally overwhelming experience of being in the world in the internet age of clashing stimuli, happy hype and news-junkie monstrosities.

Myth Explored, Explained, Exploded, 1993-1999
Glass, painted steel, silicone, monofilament, shark and formaldehyde solution
3 parts, each: 78 x 42 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches
198.3 x 107.9 x 77.5 cm (including plinth)
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photography by Prudence Cuming Associates


When: 23 Nov 2017 - 13 Jan 2018 Where: Gagosian Gallery – 7/F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street – Central