Last night my wife and I visited the opening of the Damien Hirst Exhibition at the famous Pinchuk Art Centre in Kyiv. The usual VIP guests were in attendance, including Pinchuk and many of the so called famous Ukrainians and we met many expats who had been invited.
This is the first time we have seen any of Hirsts 'material' in Ukraine. Fellow brits are only too aware of the reputation that Damian Hirst has established. On display were the usual 'Shark in Formaldehyde', followed by 'sheep',etc etc. The stunning slaughter of the cow exhibit is also there, plus a seperate cows head, with blood and flies etc. Most of the exhibit is concerned with SKULLS, ASH TRAYS and lemons............ Even a collection of Cigarete Butts, a collection of tablets and a display which looked like a display cabinet from Boots the Chemists???
Many Ukrainains were just trying to keep a straight face I am sure!!! I had to pose the question to most of my fellow expats I met at the exhibition: "So what do you think?"The answers ranged from " Interesting" (That sly British diplomatic way of saying it was not so good) to
"No comment" and even "Maybe I am missing something". But I had to remind my friends that Damien Hirst made USD 198 MILLION last year from the sale of a complete collection at Sothebys. (Plus he has made other sums) but this was a record by an artist in one sale.
So, what is it about his 'works'? Why do people pay vast amounts for his work. If as I suspect, the main intention is to SHOCK and cause comment and wide spread discussion, you have to take your hat off to him. BUT IS IT ART? What is ART??
Finally, as usual, my dear wife summed up our visit very nicely:"Its all garbage...just garbage.....lets leave and go for something to eat". So we did.
But a visit to the exhibition is recommended.