This Damien Hirst sculpture series would be challenging anywhere. Impressive that Qatar hosts it.
He’s still a decent artist, is our Damien. He has his moments anyway. Some of his work is essentially ‘art product’, mass produced for a not very discerning market. His spot paintings and spin paintings fall easily into this catagory. Basically merchandise, possibly non art. Stuff. They age badly, there’s a spin painting in the Graves gallery in Sheffield, donated / lent by Jarvis Cocker. It’s an ugly looking thing, visually crass, and dull in every sense. I thought Damien had retired to his shed to learn painting but maybe that was a bit boring and lonely for him.
Anyway, I like these sculptures. Part of his ‘make anatomical models into big brass sculptures’ series. A one line idea that translates into something decent every now and again, depending entirely on the placement of them.
These line the road to a new hospital in Qatar. Let us briefly ponder how much money they must have if they can shell out tens of millions for sculpture for a hospital. Then move on.
So yes, the Hirst sculptures gently challenge the patriarchy of the Qatar system, reminding them that men are born of women and it is women who carry and bring forth life. Or is it the Western perception of Qatar they challenge, an assumption that art like this would be far from welcomed? I think perhaps both.
I suspect there were some raised eyebrow at these, yet the fact of them being there speaks well indeeed for Qatar, acceptance, tolerance, freedom of the arts. Important cultural and social metrics. It’s changed how I consider the entire country.