Damien Hirst Goes to Kiev

How do you get an art shark to the Ukraine? Give him a retrospective. Next Saturday, Kiev’s PinchukArtCentre (funded by billionaire oligarch Victor Pinchuk) will welcome visitors to an exhibition of approximately 100 works created by Damien Hirst between 1990 and 2008. The show is called “Requiem,” which could be interpreted as a somber nod to Contemporary Art as We Knew It but is more likely a reference to the common name for Carcharhinidae, the family of sharks that Hirst prefers for pickling.
The requiem sharks will be represented in Kiev by “Death Explained” (2008) and “Death Denied” (2007), the latter a bisected and dissected tiger shark split between two vitrines. Other Hirstian hits on view through September 20 (all loans from private collections) include early sculptural works such as the maggot-filled “A Thousand Years” (1990) and “Away from the Flock” (1994), the embalmed sheep snapped up by Charles Saatchi; a flurry of butterfly pieces; and a series of skull paintings created between 2006 and 2008 and shown here for the first time. With titles such as “The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth” and “Men Shall Know Nothing,” the new skull works aren’t of the hypercolored, spin art-flavored variety you might be thinking of: the PinchukArtCentre describes them as a “return to the solitary practice of painting [in which Hirst] confronts, in very personal terms, the darkness that lies at the heart of human nature and experience.”