DAMIEN HIRST

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Hirst works in sculpture, installation and painting. Deriving his artistic language from an extraordinarily diverse range of sources – including the long tradition of the readymade, the imagery of advertising and Victorian curiosity cabinets – he appropriates, collages and assembles common objects and known artistic structures and vocabularies without any kind of hierarchy, to create new and highly symbolic works that raise profound metaphysical questions.

Hirst seduces spectators with his often disquieting reflections on mortality: cadavers suspended in formaldehyde; butterflies affixed to gloss-painted canvases; pharmaceutical and medical equipment housed in sterile cabinets; flies amassed on pictorial surfaces; images of cancer cells. In all these works, the spectator is confronted with a ‘decisive moment’ of no return, a rigorous sense of total equilibrium. Fatal situations are eerily fixed and suspended in time as if the artist were trying, metaphorically, to reverse nature’s cycle. Over a quarter of a century since he emerged onto the contemporary art scene, Hirst’s work has now been rearticulated into a state of the sublime – a new kind of beauty in art history.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is For the Love of God, a platinum cast of a human skull set with diamonds, never before seen in Scandinavia. One of Hirst’s most iconic and widely recognised works, it acts as a memento mori, reminding the viewer of the fragility of life. The dazzling beauty of the diamonds, combined with the skull, a symbol of death, demonstrate Hirst’s enduring fascination in the means by which mankind attempts to comprehend its own mortality.

Alongside this prestigious loan, the exhibition brings together the museum’s magnificent selection of Damien Hirst works, which includes some of the most significant pieces to have emerged from the artist’s extraordinary career.

Curators: Gunnar B. Kvaran and Therese Möllenhoff

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Fredrik Værslev – Fredrik Værslev as I Imagine Him

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Early in his career, Værslev experienced a breakthrough on the international art scene. His works shift between different painting traditions and are recognised by an insistent focus on the painting process.

The works start out in the meeting between architecture and painting, and take form as painted renderings of motifs from the artist’s daily life. The paintings often shift between abstraction and representation, like his breakthrough series, “terrazzo” paintings, that imitate the visuality of Italian stone floors and at the same time call upon the expressivity and spontaneity of abstract expressionism.

The “Canopy” series are reminiscent of modernism and its stripe paintings, but they stem from the awnings in the artist’s childhood home. Værslev often themes and challenges the process of painting by allowing outdoor conditions to take their effect or by making use of untraditional painting implements, like defect spray cans or equipment used to paint roads and sports arenas. The exhibition at Astrup Fearnley Museet will include a representative selection from Værslev’s artistic production from the past decade.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue containing articles by Peter J. Amdam, Martha Kirszenbaum, Gunnar B. Kvaran, Therese Möllenhoff, Dieter Roelstraete and Åsmund Thorkildsen. The catalogue is richly illustrated with reproductions of the artist’s works, designed by Zak Group and distributed by the publisher JRP Ringier.

The design of the exhibition’s Art Bag is inspired by the Canopy series, and it can be disassemble and attached to a canvas stretcher. Each bag is numbered and signed by the artist, and after it has acquired the patina of regular use it can be hung on the wall as a signed work by Værslev. Thus the owner has participated in the creation of the artwork, in the same way as wind and weather have given a patina to the Canopy paintings.

Watch the film about the Art Bag:

Curators: Gunnar B. Kvaran and Therese Möllenhoff

The exhibition is sponsored by ABG Sundal Collier and Aker ASA

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Touring Exhibition: Murakami by Murakami – Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo

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Instituto Tomie Ohtake is bringing to Brazil, for the first time, a solo show by the mythical Japanese artist Takashi Murakami (1962, Tokyo, Japan). Curated by Gunnar B. Kvaran – who also curated the show by Yoko Ono held at the Instituto in 2017 – Murakami by Murakami is based on the show by the same name originally held at Astrup Fearnley Museet, in Oslo. The exhibition features 35 works including paintings as large as 3 x 10 meters. The set of artworks, presented as a constellation of fragments of Murakami’s universe, evidences a production recognized for a number of qualities which include pictorial excellence. Read more about the exhibition at Instituto Tomie Ohtake.

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