British artist Damien Hirst explores the way of bushido in paintings
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British artist Damien Hirst explores the way of bushido in paintings

Apr 28, 2023

By Kathaleen Roberts / Journal Staff Writer Published: Friday, January 27th, 2023 at 2:02PMUpdated: Sunday, January 29th, 2023 at 12:02AM

Damien Hirst is the bad boy of British art.

So what is the innovator who has been known to present a shark in formaldehyde doing making bucolic images of Japanese cherry blossoms?

"This series is about seasons for him," said Richard Levy, the owner of Richard Levy Gallery. "Almost everything else he does is about death, or something in formaldehyde."

The gallery is showing "The Virtues," an exhibition of eight new prints, Feb. 4 through March 18.

Hirst named these giclée prints of his massive original paintings after one of the eight virtues of bushido or the samurai: justice, courage, mercy, politeness, honesty, honor, loyalty and control. The samurai, members of the warrior class, were expected to follow this code of moral principals.

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Painterly dots and gestural brush marks found in Pointillism and Impressionism cover the surface of the canvas. Hirst used delicate pinks and blues throughout the series to capture the trees in bloom. He compares the trees to a clock, with each season of bloom marking the passage of another year.

The exhibition marks the first time "The Virtues" has been shown in New Mexico.

"It's about time," Levy said. "He's seeing these trees through a window. They’ll fill the gallery with cherry blossoms."

The canvases, which are entirely covered in dense, bright colors, envelop the viewer in a vast landscape that traverses the boundaries of figuration and abstraction. Hirst explains that they "are about beauty and life and death. They’re about desire and how we process the things around us and what we turn them into, but also about the insane visual transience of beauty."

Colorful spots, animals seemingly frozen in time, anatomical models of pregnant women, glorious butterfly wings and a skull set with 8,601 pavé diamonds have become some of the defining features of Hirst's boundary-defining career. Across installation, sculpture, painting and drawing, he explores the complex relationships between art, beauty, religion, science, life and death.

From July 2021 through January 2022, "Cherry Blossoms" was exhibited at the Foundation Cartier in Paris. It then moved to the National Art Center in Tokyo in 2022, marking his first solo exhibition in Japan.

In 2011, Hirst designed the cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers album "I’m with You." His interpretation of the British flag formed the arena centerpiece for the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London.

Both artist and entrepreneur, Hirst is the leading figure associated with the Young British Artists, a movement which rose to fame in the 1980s. Hirst has received many accolades throughout his career, including Tate Britain's Turner Prize and is considered one of the most influential contemporary artists.

‘Damien Hirst: The Virtues’ WHERE: Richard Levy Gallery, 514 Central Ave. SW

WHEN: Feb. 4-March 18; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Saturday or by appointment

CONTACT: 505-766-9888,

‘Damien Hirst: The Virtues’ WHERE: WHEN: British artist Damien Hirst explores the way of bushido through series of painting Questions about the Legislature?Albuquerque Journal can get you answers