To create his works money is needed from the slaughter & shipping of animals to the creation of tanks that house them his grandest ideas have always involved money to create. 'For the love of god' his most expensive & flashy work throws his wealth in our face it also basically encapsulates all that he's about death & decay what remains when the flesh is gone yet we are removed somewhat by what the true iconography of a skull is as he turns a garish motif into a symbol of status with natural products that are meant to last forever.
Beauty within nature is also evident within his butterfly works from his mosaics formed with the wings of the deceased to the butterfly room in which the insects emerge from their cocoons to flutter, fly, get drunk on fruits and then die they are essentially reborn to die. The Calves, cows & sheep suspended in time & space could be remembrance of their existence as is a reminder that we to will be somewhere calm & clear with only a grave stone or urn to celebrate what we was.
It did feel like there was more to be seen and some key pieces of his work was missing, there is only so much Medicine cabinets one can see before you feel you've seen them all even though they are interesting and in many senses time capsules to when those items displayed were created sharing the same meaning of trying to preserve ourselves with what's inside the cabinets. One thing is it would of been great to see less spot and more spin as there simply wasn't enough spin paintings to throw focus or meaning onto them or to even suggest that this series is a large part of his output.
Possibly the point of repetition is that Hirst's work is repetitive, ideas that are one long extension and series all around the same themes of death, decay preservation, religion & wealth. The human condition and all we hope for yet also all we fear allowing beauty to be found in the unsettling.
Verdict- Intriguing at best to see one of the worlds most famous artists work from the past two decades rounded up and allow a cohesive insight into his world there is a clear sense of direction within Hirst's ideas, concepts and artworks which shows evidently and allows for a precise conversation. Love or Loathe Damien is clearly a very smart man and has something to say whilst impacting, dividing and changing the contemporary art world in the process.
Damien Hirst at Tate Modern, SE1 (020 7887 8888, tate.org.uk) until September 9. Open Sun-Thurs, 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-10pm. Admission £15.50