In Damien Hirst’s shoes at the Fondation Cartier

Cherry Blossoms is without doubt one of the highlights of the revival of the Parisian cultural scene. The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is hosting Damien Hirst’s first museum exhibition in France. And presenting an extraordinary documentary film giving viewers a glimpse into the artist’s life. SoBARNES gets in touch with creation.

PARIS - The Cherry Blossoms are at once a subversion and homage to the great artistic movements of the late 19th and 20th centuries. After three full years, the exuberant London-based artist finished the series in November 2020: “[The pandemic] has given me a lot more time to live with the paintings, and look at them, and make absolutely certain that everything’s finished”. The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain has selected 30 large-format canvases from the 107 total to take over the space designed by Jean Nouvel and absorb the spectator into the paintings until 2 January 2022.

Filmed in his studio on the banks of the Thames, Damien Hirst describes “diving into the paintings and completely blitzing them from one end to the other”, working on several canvases at the same time and constantly returning to some he kept close by months after their completion. Wearing sneakers and covered in paint, he opens the door to his light-flooded studio filled with the sounds of rock music. The camera films the artist’s dance as he moves from one canvas to another, diving into a blank canvas until it is entirely covered in paint, then piling up his paintings on top of each other. Wide-angle static shots show Damien Hirst sitting in his legendary Chesterfield armchair, silently looking at his paintings, energetically throwing paint in the style of Jackson Pollock or conscientiously applying it in dabs like Georges Seurat.

Filmed over the course of a year, these rare images provide invaluable keys to understanding the work of Damien Hirst. He talks about the exhilarated pleasure of painting and the investigation into colour he has undertaken throughout his career: “It’s been so good to make them, to be completely lost in colour and in paint in my studio. [The Cherry Blossoms are] garish and messy and fragile and about me moving away from Minimalism and the idea of an imaginary mechanical painter and that’s so exciting for me”.

We’re not afraid to say it - we’re huge fans. And we love the artist’s simple breakdown of his creative process: “Working out when a painting is finished is not tricky at all, really, it’s just when I don’t want to put any more dots on them. I find that it kind of slows down. A lot of the time when I’m looking at them, there’s things that annoy me, things that I want to resolve, areas that I don’t like and then I have to paint on top of them… And then after a while, I find that I’m sat in the chair, and I’m kind of doing two or three dots, and a lot of looking. In the end I just end up sitting and looking, and after I’ve been sitting and looking and I don’t want to change anything, they’re finished”.

This is the first time that the Cherry Blossoms series is being presented to the public. Worried the exhibition might be repetitive? Not at all, given the explosion of colours Damien Hirst is flooding the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain with. But there’s only one way to be sure, head to Boulevard Raspail yourself!

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Infos pratiques :

Damien Hirst, Cerisiers en fleurs / Cherry Blossoms - Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, 261, boulevard Raspail, 75014 Paris - FRANCE

Daily except Mondays, 11am-8pm, late closing on Tuesday at 10pm. Until 2 January 2022 / Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain




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