Damien Hirst will show off his “sticky” cherry blossom paintings in Japan in time for sakura season


Damien Hirst recognizes a shrewd marketing opportunity when he sees one, hence his plan to show off his Cherry flower paintings in Japan during the country’s highly anticipated cherry blossom season.

The series of works will be presented this spring at the National Art Center in Tokyo (from March 2 to May 23) when the institution will be surrounded by cherry blossoms for part of the exhibition route. The exhibition, billed as the artist’s first major solo exhibition in Japan, was launched at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris last July.

Last summer, we reported that “the exuberant works draw on the colors of Pierre Bonnard, the gestures of abstract expressionism and pointillist techniques”. Later in the year, the artist drew criticism after he made 63 people redundant at one of his studios in October 2020 while demanding £15million in Covid-19 emergency loans from the UK government, as well than using the leave program.

Hirst says he worked on the images for three years, completing the series of 107 paintings in November 2020. In a 2019 interview, he says The Journal of Art flowers work” seemed really tacky, like a massive celebration, and also the negative side, the deadly side of things. Then I thought, ‘But what if I paint branches and try to make them look like that ?'”

He added: “I was a little worried about it because it was representative. When you first paint the branches, they look like bad versions of Hockneys. So I was like, ‘Damn, this ‘maybe a disaster.’ But then as I kept working on it and getting rid of branches here and there and adding branches here and there, they started to have this feeling, they seemed somewhere between something figurative and something abstract, what I really like.


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