Memento mori – Damien Hirst in Dialogue with Rodolphe Bresdin and Odilon Redon; Gemeentemuseum, The Hague

VAR 01 Willem van Konijnenburg

Honour the divine light in the revelations of art.” Well, let’s stick to that.

VAR 02 Sol LeWitt
On my way to the Vincent Award Room in the Gemeentemuseum i passed some Sol LeWitt murals which make it quite easy to honour the divine light.

VAR 03 Damien Hirst

In the V.A. Room there is hardly any light to honour, let alone to make some proper pictures. But otherwise this is no room for complaining.

VAR 04 Damien Hirst
The idea of the V.A. Room is to combine and confront works of the Monique Zajfen Collection with works from the Gemeentemuseum’s own collection.

VAR 05 Damien Hirst
In this case some big photogravures coloured with gouache by Damien Hirst (1965) are confronted with etchings and an ink drawing by Rodolphe Bresdin (1822 – 1885) and some lithographs by Odilon Redon (1840 – 1916).

VAR 06 Damien Hirst

The whole combination is exhibited under the name Memento mori.

VAR 07 Damien Hirst

A long time ago i was a great admirer of Hirst’s works, but my admiration has been dwindling for the last two decades. But in spite of the reflections in the glass (or because of them) i must say i was impressed.

VAR 08 Damien Hirst

Maybe i am too easily impressed, because after all it’s the usual skulls and butterflies, and a dark background to make it a bit spooky. But it works.

VAR 09 Damien Hirst

The sense of refined luxuriousness in these works reminds you of the pomp and circumstance of old mausoleums of the high nobility. Now these works are purchased by the newly rich. But then again, it works.

VAR 10 Rodolphe Bresdin

Bresdin is famous for his extremely detailed etchings. They are not confronted directly with Hirst’s works. They need other lighting and another way of looking.

VAR 11 Damien Hirst
VAR 12 Damien Hirst

VAR 13 Damien Hirst

So, as other visitors took their time to inspect these etchings i went back to Hirst, looking death into its grinning face.

VAR 14 Damien Hirst

And back again to Bresdin.

VAR 15 Rodolphe Bresdin

The Hirsts are made to overwhelm you; the Bresdins are made to get lost in.

VAR 16 Odilon Redon

The Redons are far less detailed.

VAR 17 Odilon Redon

They are real fin de siècle works with

VAR 18 Odilon Redon

death, horses and women posing in some mysterious dream space.

VAR 19 Rodolphe Bresdin

This tiny drawing by Bresdin, small as a stamp, is the only work which is really confronting the big Hirsts.

VAR 20 Damien Hirst

VAR 21 Damien Hirst

This decadence is intoxicating and

VAR 22 Damien Hirst

VAR 23 Damien Hirst

yes, i can’t get enough of these reflections…

VAR 24 Damien Hirst

VAR 25 Damien Hirst

But as usual there is always an end to the tunnel!
(And by the way: it’s a very nice exhibition!)

VAR 26

(Click on the pictures to enlarge)

Bertus Pieters