They're no shark in a tank.
"Two Weeks One Summer," a collection of new still-life "personal" paintings from the man who brought the world "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" (you know, the shark preserved in formaldehyde), is a departure from his typical installation art, conceptual work and spot paintings.
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Hirst, who is infamous for directing a factory of workers to produce much of his work, does not often focus on representational paintings, and his critics are having a field day tearing them apart.
The Huffington Post has compiled a list of some of the critics' choicest bits, including:
-"The last time I saw paintings as deluded as Damien Hirst's latest works, the artist's name was Saif al-Islam Gaddafi." Later, writer Jones makes an analogy to Hirst being like Hitler: 'Hirst like an absolute ruler must be utterly surrounded by a court of yes-people, all down the line from his painting shed to the gallery, if there is no one to tell him he is rowing himself to artistic damnation with these trivial and pompous slabs of hack work." -The Guardian's Jonathan Jones, "Damien Hirst: Two Weeks One Summer - review"
-"There are 35 of these pictures, yet only one thought among them, and that's a cliche." -Bloomberg's Martin Gayford, "Damien Hirst Can't Paint, He's Better At Ideas: Review"
-"Standing in front of Three Parrots With Guitar and Jug (2010-12), one of more than 40 new paintings by Damien Hirst, I felt an emotion I never expected this once-brilliant artist to provoke: pity. Hirst's first oils on canvas, shown at the Wallace Collection in 2009, were dire but, staggeringly, he has got far worse in the past three years. Showing the paintings in this abundance, one cringeworthy and wretched canvas after another, is like prolonging the suffering of a dying animal." -London Evening Standard's Ben Luke, "Damien Hirst: Two weeks one summer, White Cube - review"
It's an interesting departure from the normal praise heaped upon the artist, especially in the wake of his acclaimed career-spanning survey currently on display at the Tate Modern. We can only guess what Hirst will do next.