Entertainment behind the scenes
Critics have united in their condemnation of British artist Damien Hirst’s latest works – a series of paintings that are on show at the Wallace Collection in London.
At times it seems the 44-year-old, famous for his pickled animals, pill cabinets and spot paintings, can do no wrong. Just over a year ago he made 111 million pounds at a sale of new works, confirming his status as the most sought-after living artist.
His work has always divided critics and the public alike. What is unusual about the reaction to his new paintings is that opinion against him is near-unanimous. Rachel Campbell-Johnston of the Times sums up the mood succinctly with the words: “The paintings are dreadful. Think Francis Bacon meets Adrian Mole.”
Hirst says he painted the works – many of which which feature images of white skulls on dark blue-black backgrounds – himself, unlike his spot paintings, which are produced by others in his studio. So there is a sense among detractors that he has been found out as someone whose artistic technique is lacking.
OK, there are some artists out there who are considered to be pretty special. Michelangelo could carve a mean nude and Picasso was quite good at painting in blue. But visiting a new exhibition this week made me wonder whether the most important factor in an artist’s success or otherwise is none other than Lady Luck?
Mat Collishaw was part of the “Young British Artists” brat pack in the 1990s, and had a relationship with one of its leading lights Tracey Emin. Like his contemporaries, his art had the power to shock and disturb. His ideas, it seems to me, were no less interesting than his peers’, and his technical ability on a par. And yet, while Hirst, and to a lesser extent, Emin rose to superstardom and considerable wealth, others like Collishaw did not.