Damien Hirst’s ‘The Secrets’: A journey into nature and human ambition

Happiness by Damien Hirst
Happiness by Damien Hirst, 2024
DTR Modern Galleries

There is something inordinately magical about the idea of a secret garden — something that Damien Hirst taps into with his art.

As a child, the imagination ignites excitement and an unmitigated appreciation of nature. This is the same sensation that emanates from the new works from Damien Hirst: “The Secrets.”

This latest series, on display now, represents a profound evolution in Hirst’s artistic journey, showcasing his enduring fascination with the interplay between realism and abstraction. The works provide an immersive experience, transporting viewers into lush, fantastical landscapes that reflect both the beauty and complexity of the natural world.

Evolution of an artistic vision

Knowledge by Damien Hirst
Knowledge by Damien Hirst, 2024DTR Modern Galleries

“The Secrets” series is derived from Hirst’s 2023 body of work, “The Secret Gardens Paintings.” These pieces are characterized by their rich, diverse palettes and intricate depictions of seemingly endless species of flowers. Through these vibrant landscapes, Hirst explores a central theme: the dynamic and often fraught relationship between humanity and nature.

Hirst’s new series marks a significant progression in his practice. By delving deeper into the tension between control and chaos, realism and abstraction, he captures the essence of our environmental interactions. The artist himself has expressed a desire for these works “to feel like the hope and futility we get when we try to control nature.”

This sentiment resonates throughout the series, as each piece juxtaposes meticulous detail with abstract flourishes, embodying the paradoxical nature of human efforts to tame the untamable.

The original “Secret Gardens Paintings” made their debut at Frieze London in 2023, commemorating the 20th anniversary of this prestigious art fair. The initial reception was one of awe and admiration, as critics and viewers alike were drawn to the lush, immersive quality of Hirst’s botanical creations. These paintings do more than depict gardens; they invite contemplation of our deeper connections to the environment.

Looking ahead, a selection of these paintings will be featured at Château La Coste in March 2024, as part of a major exhibition titled “The Light That Shines.” This upcoming show will provide a comprehensive look at Hirst’s recent works, blending his paintings with his sculptures to create a holistic view of his artistic exploration. The exhibit promises to be a captivating dialogue between the natural world and Hirst’s creative interpretation of it.

A thematic exploration

Selflessness by Damien Hirst
Selflessness by Damien Hirst, 2024DTR Modern Galleries
Tolerance by Damien Hirst
Tolerance by Damien Hirst, 2024DTR

Central to “The Secrets” is the theme of humanity’s interrelation with the environment. Hirst’s works act as a canvas for this complex relationship, portraying both our attempts to control nature and the inherent futility in such endeavors. His paintings are a testament to nature’s resilience and beauty, existing independently of human intervention.

Through “The Secrets,” Hirst captures the duality of hope and despair that defines our environmental interactions. The vibrant colors and intricate details of his floral landscapes evoke a sense of wonder, while the abstract elements remind us of the unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of nature. This duality prompts viewers to reflect on their own roles and responsibilities within the natural world.

As one navigates the walls of DTR Modern Gallery, enveloped by the lush visuals of “The Secrets,” they are invited to engage in a deeper contemplation of their relationship with nature. Hirst’s paintings serve as both a mirror and a window—reflecting our desires to control and cultivate, while offering a glimpse into the boundless, untamed beauty of the natural world.

“The Secrets” is more than an exhibition; it is an artistic meditation on the delicate balance between humanity and nature. Through his masterful blend of realism and abstraction, Hirst invites us to ponder the profound secrets that lie within and beyond the canvas.

Visit dtrmodern.com for further information about The Secrets and its SoHo gallery.