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Black Scalpel Cityscapes by Damien Hirst

Controversial artist Damien Hirst is back on the art stage with impressive new work for the White Cube São Paulo gallery, significantly titled Black Scalpel Cityscapes.

Described by Hirst as “portraits of living cities”, the large scale paintings are composed of surgical instruments such as scalpels, blades, hooks, filings and safety pins that come together glued over a black background to create a bird’s-eye view of 17 different cities.

The selected cities, among which stand Washington DC, the Vatican City, Leeds, Beijing, London and Hong Kong; are either cities of recent conflict, particular economic and religious significance, or places tightly related to the artist’s own life.

The paintings investigate the sometimes-disturbing realities of modern life such as surveillance, urbanisation, mortality and globalisation, while also referencing with wordplay the military procedure of ‘surgical bombing’ or ‘surgical strikes’ that characterises modern warfare – a not-so-subtle provocation that is always key to Hirst’s body of work.

He has described the steel scalpels, which have recurred in his work since the early 1990s, as “dark but at the same time light” – a reference to the visual appeal of the highly reflective, precision-tooled metal, and the universal fear of the surgeon’s knife.

The Black Scalpel Cityscapes are on show at the White Cube gallery in São Paulo from 11 November 2014 to 24 January 2015.

Images courtesy of Damien Hirst and White Cube São Paulo.

– Gemma Riberti

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