Hirst made his very first Spin Paintings in 1992 in his studio in Brixton, London, titling the works with the amusingly convoluted titles that were to become the hallmark of the series. One year after the series’ inception, Hirst set up a spin painting stall with fellow artist Angus Fairhurst at a street art fair ‘A Fete Worse than Death’. Made-up as clowns by performance artist Leigh Bowery, Fairhurst and Hirst invited visitors to pay £1 to create their own spin paintings to be signed by the pair. When Hirst started the series in earnest in 1994 on circular shaped canvases, they became one of the most instantly recognisable and popular parts of his entire corpus. Beautiful, intense, violently, gorgeous, painful, invading love, painting is a consummate example, epitomising Hirst’s metaphor that the spinning vortex of paint resembles the chaotic unpredictability of existence: “The movement sort of implies life” (Damien Hirst cited in: Damien Hirst and Gordon Burn, On the Way to Work, London 2001, p. 221). Influenced by the postmodern privileging of chance and the aleatory, Hirst exerts a limited amount of control in the creation of these works. By pouring a succession of different hues of household emulsion paint onto a rapidly rotating canvas, Hirst creates variegated surfaces of gravity-informed colour that bespeak the centrifugal energy of their execution. Emptied over the canvas in a manner akin to Jackson Pollock as captured in the iconic photographs by Hans Namuth, Hirst’s application of paint combined with the mechanical spin of the surface is undeniably performative in its vigour.
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