The Dot WarsSPOTS! Spots are appearing everywhere right now. On clothing, crockery, textiles and - in Art. Spots are round(ish) marks differing in colour or texture from the surfaces around them. The artist Damian Hirst recently showed Spot paintings in Gagosian Galleries around the world. Some of these are enormous and some are miniscule. All contain perfect circles perfectly painted in household gloss. All are structured on the grid.
Everything I know about Hirst relates to numbers, amounts: the phenominal sums of money paid for his work, the fact of eleven galleries concurrently showing his Spots; 1,500 have been produced so far; a team of assistants are working on one with a million spots that will take nine years to complete, and so on. Perhaps the most surprising number is 5, the number of spot paintings Hirst actually painted himself. By now he has so many assistants that it is a ‘factory’ setup, such is the demand for his work. Yet he still sees himself as the artist, being the one who has the ideas.
My personal response to the Spot paintings is to find them bright but cold and not particularly interesting in their perfect execution. These dots don’t relate to each other and I don’t relate to the paintings. A very different use is made of dots by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, currently showing at London’s Tate Modern. She is known as ‘the high priestess of polka dots’, having used them in her work and on her body for sixty years – since before Hirst was born. She uses them in a subjective, obsessional way. The exhibition includes paintings, sculpture and full scale sensorial environments and I can’t wait to see it.
I make use of spots, blots, splats and blats in my own work. I love the discoveries from the accidental that can occur in a painting. one of my favourite quotes is from John Cage: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep”.