When you think of Damien Hirst you usually think of rotting cows heads, sharks, skulls, dead flies, spots, and general principles of vanitas and death – you wouldn’t necessarily associate Britain’s richest artist, who is thought to be worth around £215 million, with the lovey-doviness of Valentine’s Day, as usually the only heart on display will probably be real and dead.
But the notorious artist is launching a Valentine’s Day pop-up exhibition at London’s Paul Stolper Gallery that the Independent reports will focus exclusively on the theme of love. The works on display will include butterfly prints, pink-and-red sculptures that recall the candy hearts you gave out in school, that read “♡ YU 4 EVA,” – and finally Love Struck, a sculpture of a heart pierced by a crossbow bolt suspended in a candy jar.
“Damien has always believed in love. It’s a common theme in his work,” said gallerist Paul Stolper. “There’s nothing wrong with love. He’s proud to celebrate that.”
Hirst, 49, and a father of three, split with his partner of 19 years, Maia Norman, in 2012, and has been dating girlfriend Roxie Nafousi for three years. The artist’s 2007 sculpture “For the Love of God”, a platinum cast of a skull set with 8,601 flawless pavé-set diamonds, which allegedly sold for £50 million, possibly too expensive for a Valetine’s gift.
For his latest exhibition Hirst is focusing “exclusively on the theme of love” with works including a portfolio of love heart prints each foil blocked with a single butterfly.
Hirst came to prominence as the leader of the pack of Young British Artists (YBA’s) in the early 90’s – after the artist curated an exhibition in July 1988, in his second year at Goldsmiths College, where Hirst was the main organiser of an independent student show called Freeze, in a disused London Port Authority administrative block in London’s Docklands.
The exhibition was noticed by the London art world and helped launch the careers of a number of now famous British artist, and was considered a renaissance for art in the capital, that was even embraced by the political set to attempt to garner votes. Hirst went on to cut sheep in half and ‘insectocute’ flies with works loosely based upon his hero Francis bacon – not very lovey-dovey darling.
Damien Hirst’s “LOVE” pops up at Paul Stolper Gallery from February 9 to 21.