REVIEW: Damien Hirst @ White Cube, Hong Kong

May 31, 2013 7:34AM

“I’d love a simple world to exist, but unfortunately it doesn’t.”

— Damien Hirst, in an interview with Tim Marlow, February, 2013

There’s not much more to be said about Damien Hirst that hasn’t been said already. He’s the most opportunistic artist of the early 21st century, ranking far ahead of Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami in terms of public notoriety in the reigning triumvirate of post-Warholian cynics, the generation that, unfortunately, took the-ever-ironic Andy quite literally about the industrial production of art—much to the delight of the captains of global empires who can afford to purchase their works. In Hirst’s case, the former London art schoolenfant terrible has evolved over the course of his career into a mainstream designer of a merchandise line that now resembles a luxury brand—say, Patek Phillipe watches or Bentley automobiles—rather than an artistic oeuvre. That may be to Hirst’s credit, as the central ambition behind his entire enterprise could be characterized as a kind of highly lucrative Meta-Pop Art, where the ironic, critical tropes of Postmodernism (both visual and rhetorical) are co-opted and redeployed in flashy product development. The man who has created more than 1,400 “dot” paintings and a skull encrusted withGBP 12 million worth of diamonds—offered for a substantial, well-publicized mark-up at GBP 50 million—could hardly dispute this in good conscience.

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