The YBA British artist Damien Hirst is exhibiting a series of paintings, not exactly critically acclaimed in the UK, for the first time in Austria, at The Arnulf Rainer Museum in the Frauenbad Baden. Hirst’s series “Two Weeks One Summer” will come together with selected works by Arnulf Rainer. Damien Hirst’s expressionistic and self-reflective still lifes from 2008 to 2012 will encounter Arnulf Rainer’s energetic finger paintings, actionistic Face Farces and contemplative over-paintings from the early 1950s.
The exhibition DAMIEN HIRST / ARNULF RAINER generates an artistic dialogue between two of the most influential artists alive today and ignores generational boundaries. Both Arnulf Rainer (b. 1929) and Damien Hirst (b. 1965) work consistently at expanding their own artistic vocabulary but nevertheless discover that they have in common a recognition of the regenerative power of painting.
The curators of the exhibition, Rudi Fuchs and Maarten Bertheux, are regarded as the most internationally recognised exhibition makers. They have composed a carefully assembled group of eighty works of the two exceptional artists for the architecturally demanding space. The works of Arnulf Rainer and Damien Hirst continuously alternate and, as in a literary narrative or musical composition, they thereby develop a creative dialogue.
Hirst’s paintings were realised in a studio in the garden of his home in Devon, England. In complete contrast to the large-scale sculptural and serial works created with the help of assistants, in this series the artist became directly and personally involved with one of the fundamental genres and mediums of art history: still life and oil painting.
Between 2008 and 2012 Damien Hirst attempted to disengage from the influence of his obligations and other distractions so as to get closer to the essence of his art by returning to painterly techniques. The result is this series of paintings, “Two Weeks One Summer.”
Damien Hirst and Arnulf Rainer are akin to each other in their attitude to art in general and to painting in particular. In the 1950s Arnulf Rainer formulated articles and propositions that contain what, for him, was painting’s central task: to be a “visual ‘form’ of spiritual consciousness.” He then went on to an intensive concern with the proximity and consequences of life and death. In his painstakingly calculated installations and assemblages Damien Hirst is also concerned with the big issues of growth and decay. The two artists are bound by the insight that painting, as the most complex means of artistic expression, forces the painter to be truthful.
“We had this idea, then, that the playful summer paintings of Damien Hirst might go well with selected works by Arnulf Rainer. The art of both masters has a strange and reckless impulsiveness. That was the vague idea or expectation. I also sensed in both of them a similar uncompromising, headstrong artistic attitude (obsession maybe) in all their work. We consider them very courageous artists.”
– Rudi Fuchs, 2014
Since September 2009 the Arnulf Rainer Museum in the classicist building of the former women’s baths has been alternating monographic and thematic exhibitions of the multi-layered oeuvre of the world famous artist from Baden. After GEORG BASELITZ – ARNULF RAINER: NEWS FROM THE ATELIER(2011) and MARIO MERZ – ARNULF RAINER: DEEP WIDE [FRAGMENTS] (2013), DAMIEN HIRST / ARNULF RAINER (commotion) is the third exhibition that places Arnulf Rainer’s work in dialogue with that of one of his contemporaries.
DAMIEN HIRST / ARNULF RAINER 25 April–5 October 2014 Arnulf Rainer Museum Josefsplatz 5 2500 Baden Austria