is a majestic example of Hirst’s most renowned series of works, The Pharmaceutical Paintings
. Executed in 1993, this vast work represents the artist at the peak of his creative ambition. The sheer volume and minute scale of the multi-colored spots on the brilliant white surface shows the dazzling embodiment of a project which represents the lifeblood of Hirst’s highly influential output. The title for the series emerged from the artist’s desire to question the proximity of Medicine and Art. Begun in 1991, The Pharmaceutical Paintings
were originally conceived as an endless series of paintings in which the choice of size, variation of color and amount of spots on each painting were systematically infinite. Organized only by the structure of the circular disc of color evenly spaced on the white background in grid-like formation, Hirst has worked through his experimentations with color and scale in a highly logical manner. Like a true scientist, he has mixed up hundreds of tones and shades of each color in the spectrum in a controlled experiment which offers an infinite variety of choice, but equally an infinite variety of difference. No one color seems to be privileged over another, no hierarchy is implied. This even-handedness, where color relationships are carefully balanced, exerts a draughtsman-like rigor to the painting, but more than this it also casts a metaphorical reference, almost a moral dimension in Hirst’s seemingly heterogeneous works. He has stated, “I started them as an endless series like a sculptural idea of a painter (myself). A scientific approach to painting in a similar way to the drug companies’ approach to life. Art doesn’t purport to have all the answers, the drug companies do.” (i want to spend the rest of my life everywhere, with everyone, one to one, always, forever, now,
London, 1997, p. 246)
Hirst has here rescued the age-old artistic genre of the grid from Modernist hands and returned it back to its original roots, in Scientific thought and genetic structure. In this way, the work’s apparent simplicity of form is counterbalanced by its complexity of content, so that Amodiaquin, whilst relying to a certain degree on its striking visual appeal, also possesses a unique and arresting intellectual punch like no other painting in late twentieth-century British Art.