Martin Gayford reports on the latest startling departure for Damien Hirst: In his new show at the Wallace Collection, he’s made the paintings himself. “As always with Hirst, the presentation is theatrically brilliant. The pictures, all done between 2006 and 2008, hang on walls covered in specially woven French silk at the heart of one of the choicest arrays of old masters and objets d’art in the world. When you leave the galleries where Hirst’s pictures are displayed, you walk into a room studded with masterpieces by Rembrandt, Titian, Rubens and Van Dyck. So for sheer chutzpah, he can’t be faulted. On the other hand, in that Olympian context, it’s hard to be fair to these slightly tentative new works. Once you get past the sumptuous silk and old-master frames, you can’t help noticing that this is a series of pastiches of Francis Bacon, circa 1950.”
From the BBC News round up of reviews: Sarah Crompton: “Although they have impact as a a group,individually many of the paintings simply don’t pass muster. Details are tentatively painted; compositions fall apart under scrutiny.”Adrian Searle: “At its worst, Hirst’s drawing just looks amateurish and adolescent.” Rachel Campbell-Johnston: “Think Francis Bacon meets Adrian Mole.” And Tom Lubbock says of the paintings: “They’re extremely boring. Hirst, as a painter, is at about the level of a not-very-promising, first-year art student.” Christopher Howse: “I’m glad Damien Hirst has sobered up and had children and gone to live in the country. He’d better find himsef some hobby, but not, I suggest, painting.”
“Damien Hirst: No Love Lost: Blue Paintings,” Wallace Collection, London. Through Jan. 24, 2010.