Damien Hirst on his ‘extreme’ and ‘almost tacky’ Cherry Blossoms until 2 January 2022, Fondation Cartier

Marking his first museum exhibition in France, British artist Damien Hirst dominates the Fondation Cartier with a new paintings depicting vibrant, explosive cherry blossoms.

The Cherry Blossoms are about beauty and life and death. They’re extreme – there’s something almost tacky about them,’ says Damien Hirst, describing the new series of paintings for his first museum exhibition in France, devoted to, you guessed it, cherry blossoms.  The show began with an invitation from Hervé Chandès, general director of the Fondation Cartier, during a 2019 meeting with the artist in London. Over the following three years, Hirst lived and breathed Cherry Blossoms. In his Thames-side London studio, the artist describes ‘diving into the paintings and completely blitzing them from one end to the other’. Hirst dominates the Jean Nouvel-designed Fondation Cartier exhibition space with 30 paintings selected by Chandès and the artist. These vast canvases, divided into single panels, diptychs, triptychs, quadriptychs, and even a hexaptych, are saturated with vivid colours, and dizzying clusters of erupting buds that attract viewers, but also consume them.  The celebration of the blooming of cherry trees (or ‘sakura’) in Japan is centuries-old – a deeply-rooted cultural and philosophical symbol. Set against a clear blue sky, they are a vision of ultimate beauty, a phenomenon in their physical magnificence, their ephemerality, and also in their almost-parodic ability to tempt anyone with a camera and an Instagram account to stop in their tracks.

‘They’re decorative but taken from nature,’ says Hirst. ‘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 – a tree in full crazy blossom against a clear sky. It’s been so good to make them, to be completely lost in colour and in paint in my studio.’

Courtesy of Wallpaper