Damien Hirst

Something must break, 2008

Plexiglass and suture equipment
180 × 92 × 36 cm

“Where did I get the idea for these glass boxes? I have always loved glass as being something dangerous and something to keep you away. You can see through it but it is solid. I have always loved that kind of idea. I loved that, using glass in a way that it is not a picture frame.”
—Damien Hirst

As one of the most iconic series of the artist’s career, Medicine Cabinets continue to explore the intersections of art and life science. Physiology, pathology, natural history, and pharmacology – Hirst leverages their authority and credibility to shock the viewer into directly confronting the fundamentals of existence.

The work of Damien Hirst is distinguished by a constant exploration of themes related to mortality and fragility of human life, and his artworks often provoke contemplation about the inevitability of death. At the same time, however, Hirst’s work also reveals a desire to transcend death and achieve immortality. This paradox is reflected in his statement, “I am going to die and I want to live forever. I can’t escape the fact and I can’t let go of the desire.”

Hirst uses the calming minimalism of pharmaceutical design to justify the healing potential of art. As works of art, the medicine cabinets become icons for veneration.

Separated from religious dogma these pharmacological objects purport life extending assurance via the reliable antiseptic purity of chemicals and prescription medication. As artist explains: “the whole notion that science can actually heal, can resurrect someone… That’s science as the new religion”.

Through the assortment of medical packages and boxes carefully arranged within the five shelves of the cabinet, ‘Something Must Break’ signifies the progression of existence itself.

In its elegance, simplicity, and appropriateness, the work earns a prominent place among Hirst’s medical cabinets, increasing in conceptual significance over the years.

Damien Hirst, Gary Tatintsian Gallery, 31.03 – 01.06.2017

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