World-renowned contemporary British artist Damien Hirst has recently opened an exhibition at The National Art Center, Tokyo, displaying his large-scale paintings of the famous Japanese cherry blossoms, just in time for the beloved season.
This is Hirst’s first solo showing in Japan and features 24 out of the extensive 107-piece series of work. The large-scale images are reminiscent of his widely recognized spot paintings, which he created from 1986 to 2011; however, they are a visual representation of his move away from minimalist painting. Speaking on the works—titled Cherry Blossoms—which were shown for the first time last year at Fondation Cartier in Paris, Hirst said:
“The Cherry Blossoms are about beauty and life and death. They’re extreme—there’s something almost tacky about them. Like Jackson Pollock twisted by love. They’re decorative but taken from nature. 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 color and in paint in my studio. They’re garish and messy and fragile and about me moving away from Minimalism and the idea of an imaginary mechanical painter and that’s so exciting for me.”
The beauty of this exhibition is that it coincides with the blooming of the cherry blossom trees throughout the city. If you time it right, when you visit the exhibition, you will be all-consumed by the pink hues of the blooms and the stark blue of the sky, from both outside the gallery and in.
As you move through the exhibition rooms, the paintings differ in color palettes, tones, atmosphere and composition, and well represent the individuality of each tree and, in turn, each bloom. These paintings light up an ordinary white wall, and while the subject matter of each piece is the same, every canvas evokes a new feeling, and for those who have experienced many cherry blossom seasons, it triggers fond memories of hanami parties and the balmy weather of the spring.
As you exit the exhibition you will find a room full of merchandise, ranging from bookmarks to wall prints, all covered in various paintings from the Cherry Blossom series.
The National Art Center, Tokyo
Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558
College students: ¥1,200
High school students: ¥600