’Where the Land Meets the Sea’ features works from Damien Hirst’s latest series ’Coast Paintings’, ’Sea Paintings’ and ’Seascapes’.
Created in 2019, ’Coast Paintings’ are colourful action paintings which intend to convey the energy, excitement and change experienced by the seaside in winter. Each painting is named after a British coastal location and affixed to the back of each canvas is a matching postcard.
The ’Coast Paintings’ began their life as grey canvases which were laid on the floor of Hirst’s studio while he painted his acclaimed Cherry Blossoms series. Constructed through Hirst’s now characteristic painting practice of intuitively splattering variously coloured paints onto his canvases, in ’Coast Paintings’ he leaves at times vast passages of the underlying grey canvas exposed. With the exposed grey canvas evoking the wintertime sky, the ’Coast Paintings’ emerge as aerial maps or satellite images of shimmering coastlines, as seen through pockets of cloud cover.
These compositions evolve across 168 paintings. At times lively greens and soft pinks blanket the canvases while at others, deep reds and browns thickly but sparsely dot the surfaces. Sometimes the compositions evoke islands or peninsulas while at others, there’s a sense of the moment a long coastline meets the sea. Through each unique composition, Hirst intends to capture a sense of fragmented light in the British seas at wintertime.
Damien Hirst’s ’Sea Paintings’ capture in photorealistic detail images of coastal storms from across the world. A series of 64 paintings rendered in greyscale, ’Sea Paintings’ echo the temperament of the British coastlines that Hirst has observed during winter.
Created in 2022, ’Sea Paintings’ is the latest iteration of his 25-year-long effort to perfectly recreate photographs in paint – what he terms ‘Fact Paintings’. Hirst has wrestled with photography, a medium which has remained a complicating force for painters since the first photograph, since childhood when he was told, ‘When you can paint like a photograph then you’re a real artist!’.
Paired with dark, encroaching clouds, these dynamic images of coastal storms are frozen in time through the single click of a button. In ’Sea Paintings’, these chance, energetic moments were then slowly painted over months and years. In doing so, throwaway photographic moments become immortalised in paint. ’Sea Paintings’ are embedded with a juxtaposition between chance and intentional, order and chaos.
Damien Hirst’s ’Seascapes’ join the photorealistic imagery of his ’Sea Paintings’ series with the expressionistic splatters of his ’Coast Paintings’, capturing the scenes and sensations of crashing seas.
Produced in 2021, at the base of ’Seascapes’ are duplicates of the 64 photographic works from Hirst’s ’Sea Paintings’ series after images of storms from across the world. These paintings have then been overworked with thrown and more gestural paint, notably using only greyscale colours to mirror the tones of the underlying images.
Speaking to the relationship between ’Seascapes’ and ’Sea Paintings’, Hirst says, ‘The ’Seascapes’ and ’Sea Paintings’ could maybe be seen in pairs as each series compliments and references the other and in each series, we see two types of action or forces at work. The captured actual energy in thrown and moving thick paint over a carefully painted photographic image and in the other, the faithfully painted reproduction of a captured moment.’
The thickly splattered paints in ’Seascapes’ develop on the underlying compositions, apparently imitating the sprays of water that emanate from the waves and creates the feeling of caught moments. Adding a tactile layer of paint to the already energetic images brings the power of nature as depicted in the compositions one step closer to the viewer.
In ’Seascapes’, Hirst references the iconic work and practice of Jackson Pollock and the Abstract Expressionist painters. In joining abstraction with figuration, splattered and thick blots of paint, ’Sea Paintings’ also reference the Pointillists and figurative, energetic painters like Pierre Bonnard and Georges Seurat.