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JustHere | December 10, 2016

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Damien Hirst is coming to town, and here are 10 things you should know about him

A landmark addition to Qatar’s burgeoning art scene is on its way. Iconic British artist, Damien Hirst, will open his first solo exhibition in the Middle East titled ‘Damien Hirst: Relics’ at the Al Riwaq exhibition space in Qatar on October 10, 2013.

Relics will be a retrospective survey of all his works and will be his first solo show in the Middle East. It will feature both work that he has never displayed before, as well as some of his most popular work such as the iconic diamond-encrusted skull ‘For the Love of God’, The Natural History Series of animals preserved in formaldehyde and the Spot Paintings.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Damien Hirst and his body of work:

  1. In June 2007, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former Emir of Qatar purchased one of Hirst’s most expensive creations to date – Lullaby Spring, a three-metre wide steel cabinet with 6136 pills – for a whopping GBP9.7 million.
  2. As a student, Hirst was placed in a mortuary while in university, which influenced his fascination with the themes of life and death. Death is a central theme in many of his works.
  3. He received an ‘E’ grade in Art on his A-levels. He was subsequently fused admission into art school the first time he applied.
  4. Spot, spin and butterflies are some of the common themes across his work.
  5. His The Natural History Series features dead animals presented as memento mori (a reminder of the physical inevitability of death) installations. The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) is one of the most prominent of these. It comprises a shark suspended in a tank preserved in formaldehyde.
  6. A doodle of a dead shark rapidly sketched by Hirst as a tip for a cab driver fetched nearly $7500 at an auction in London in March 2012, which was thirteen times the pre-auction estimate.
  7. One of his most provocative and engaging works titled A Thousand Years contains an actual life cycle. This work consists of a white minimal box with maggots hatching inside. These turn into flies, feed on the bloody severed head of a cow on the floor of a claustrophobic glass vitrine. An insect electrocutor kills many of these flies while others continue to live through the cycle.
  8. Hirst has also created more than 1500 spot-themed paintings since 1986, which have been really popular world-over. These ‘spots’ or dots are mainly smooth enamel discs of colour against white canvases. These dots are placed in orderly grids at intervals that equal the diameter of the discs. People creating the painting choose the colours with the rule that the colour cannot be repeated on the same canvas.
  9. One of his installations ‘Resurrection’, which is a skeleton suspended in a crucifixion pose by two panes of glass, was the centerpiece for the first art exhibition hosted in Iran by the British Council since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
  10. Hirst directed a music video for the song ‘Country House’ by the British band Blur.
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