Damien Hirst: Archaelogy Nowunattributed
“Archaeology Now in the Galleria Borghese does not conflict with the fantasy-story but takes it to its conclusion and, even more than in the narrative, it implements the element offancy (in Coleridge’s sense of the term) in the apparently impossible scholarly game of linguistic artifice, perfect but not to be confused with imitation.”
“His paintings impregnate the same great themes explored in his sculptural works, not through a mimesis of reality but rather through a physical interpenetration between the world and the pictorial surface, between the illusory desire to arrest time and the inevitable decay of life in nature.”
“Deception is also the sphere of the challenge in this exhibition, which places strategic and mysterious works in a setting with a strong vocation for self-affirmation and dissimulation, for the interplay of mirrors and, albeit indirectly, illusion.”
An extraordinary cultural operation that creates a dialogue, natural and inevitable in terms of materials and themes, between Damien Hirst, the most controversial artist of our times, and the classical statuary on display in the museum. The sculptures produced over the years by the British artist and his new Colour Space series of paintings seem conceived to be associated with the works, colours, ancient and modern materials that the Galleria Borghese preserves, and which forms its built fabric.
The volume, which thoroughly studies the themes of the exhibition, presents photographs of the exhibition, with the works of Hirst exhibited in the rooms of the museum, and numerous material details of contemporary and ancient works, in an illusory interplay that the eye cannot escape.
The installation view is followed by illustrated essays by the curators and the art historian Geraldine Leardi. Anna Coliva, former director of the Galleria Borghese, tackles the concept of the statue, which contains the overall identity of the collection, while Mario Codognato, the leading expert on Damien Hirst’s oeuvre, analyses his works on canvas and his painting, which “in many ways breaks down the barrier between art and death”, with a focus on the new series presented in the exhibition. Geraldine Leardi recounts the exhibition through its rooms, studying the material, time frame and seriality of the works.
The volume closes with a list of all the works on display.
The catalogue draws the reader into the flow of the exhibition by offering an overall survey of the past and present nurtured by the proximity between ancient and contemporary painting, without frames that separate and without signalling elements that interrupt this immersion in what is, to quote the curator of the exhibition, “An eternal journey of art beyond any shipwreck.”