Beautiful Pete Townshend Tune after Tune Painting was created for the debut of Pete Townshend’s new single Can’t Outrun The Truth. The first solo single from the founder of The Who in 29 years, the song was co-written and produced by Rachel Fuller. Rachel and Pete reached out to Damien Hirst to create an artwork for the track, resulting in a unique one-off spin painting of Townshend, which adorns the sleeve of the 200 individual single vinyl records. Each of these were signed by Townshend and made exclusively available during the Teenage Cancer Trust Gigs at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. All proceeds from the sale of the vinyl, as well as a percentage of each digital download, went to the Teenage Cancer Trust UK.

Pete Townshend with the Can’t Outrun The Truth vinyl.
Image: © Pete Townshend

Beautiful Pete Townshend Tune after Tune Painting is a wonderful example from Hirst’s iconic Spin Paintings series. Created by pouring different colours of household paint onto a rapidly rotating canvas, Hirst’s renowned Spin Paintings are visually arresting for their colourful kineticism achieved through the spontaneous effects of chance, as the artist’s own hand is removed from the final product. By pouring a succession of different hues of household emulsion paint, the artist creates variegated surfaces of colour that speak to the centrifugal energy of their execution. Filled with dynamism and exploding with colour well beyond the limits of the canvas, Hirst’s Spin Paintings symbolise the beautiful unpredictability of life and the artist’s ongoing quest to push beyond preordained limits. The artist created his very first Spin Paintings in 1992 in his studio in Brixton, titling the works with the amusingly convoluted titles which now distinguish the series.

“The Spin Paintings gather and amalgamate the individuality of every individual colour, introducing a mechanical rotating movement at the moment of execution, to make the colours participate in a primordial state, where order and creation dissolve and disengage from the meditation of thought and representation, to become pure expression of the basic and vital gesture of painting and its mythology.”
Eduardo Cicelyn in: Exh. Cat., Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Damien Hirst: The Agony and The Ecstasy, Selected Works from 1989-2004, 2004-2005, p. 42

The Spin Paintings were inspired by the autonomous processes of Jackson Pollock, whose revolutionary drip paintings proved to be integral in changing the landscape of 20th century painting. Pollock pioneered his drip technique by dynamically pouring skeins of paint on canvas or paper laid on the floor below him. Similarly, Hirst’s application of paint combined with the mechanical spin of the surface is undeniably performative in its vigour. The artist perfectly captures the simplicity of the series’ appeal revealing:

“I really like making them. And I really like the machine, and I really like the movement. Every time they’re finished, I’m desperate to do another one.”
Damien Hirst, On the Way to Work, 2001, p. 221

The sale proceeds of the present work, generously donated by Pete Townshend and Damien Hirst, will go to Teenage Cancer Trust.