My little sister got married at the end of last month and as she now resides in the fantastic city of York, it was a great excuse to revisit the YSL again. Me and Mr C had previously visited the sculpture park a few years ago for the Kaws exhibition, which was brilliant. Not only was the work by Kaws fantastic, the grounds were stunning, we discovered world renowned artists work around every corner which was so exciting, and you certainly clock up the kilometres walking around all day. For this visit, the featured sculpture show was by none other than Damien Hirst who as a Young British Artist in the 1990s has dominated the art world ever since.
Hirst has 4 large bronzes on the YSL site and 3 within the Leeds city centre. The 4 sculptures we visited were all in the newly revived 18th Century deer park and they looked like they were made for that setting. ‘Myth’ (pictured) was one of my favourites. The vibrant anatomy against the marble white of the mythical unicorn felt very clinical but also powerful, giving a nod to the traditional art history of horse bronzes. ‘Charity’ was a stunning feature to the exhibit, although I have previously seen her in recent years at the RWA in Bristol, she is still a delight with her teddy bear and her ‘Please Give Generously’ sign.
‘The Virgin Mother’ stood impressively by the estates lake. Referencing the stance of Degas’s ‘Little Dancer’ her medical atonomy, shows her exposed foetus, muscles, skull and breast tissue. Hirst loves to play with contemporary, medical references and religious iconography to tell a story. She has a similar feel to ‘Verity’ which stands proudly at over 20 meters tall, looking out to sea in Ilfracombe harbour, Devon.
The biggest surprise for me was ‘The Hat Makes The Man’. I would never have thought it was a Damien Hirst sculpture. I am very familiar with his animal, religious and anatomical works but this threw me….. but I loved it! Created in 2004-07 this piece was based on a 1920s collage by Surrealist artist Max Ernst which consisted of cut out images of gentleman’s hats absurdly stacked. It is thought that Ernst was inspired by Sigmund Freud and his his theory that a hat is a symbol of repressed male desire. Hirst plays with this idea in three dimensions, stacking the hats high making phallic- objects. Created in bronze but beautifully painted to imitate the original object (wood, plastic and textiles) it was hard to believe it wasn’t a found object piece. I love how Hirst plays with the grandeur associated with bronze casting by painting it to look like plastic or a disposable material.
If you want to check out this show you have until 29th September but I highly recommend a visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park at anytime of the year because their permanent collection is incredible.