oil on board, 8.5″ x 6″, 2012
In winter I tend to work smaller. I’ve been doing little panels. It’s good to move smaller sometimes to see what you’re missing in the larger work. Somehow this always happens to me in winter, my ambition for large scale work is softer and I’m in the mood for intimate little paintings. These aren’t the best recent works, but those that photographed the best.
Today as I painted, I was trying to figure out if I should keep a promise I made to myself ten years ago. I’ve been struggling as to whether I should break Damien Hirst’s nose. Here’s the story…
I am a painter but, until recently, was a New York City Firefighter. It was a day job to enable my painting. One I enjoyed until that day.
Ten years ago I was reading The N.Y. Post. In it was a quote by British “artist” Damien Hirst. The quote, “You’ve got to hand it to them on some level, because they’ve achieved something which nobody would have thought possible, especially to a country as big as America.”… “So on one level they need congratulating, which a lot of people shy away from, which is a very dangerous thing.”…”The thing about 9/11 is that it’s kind of an artwork in its own right. It was wicked, but it was devised in this way for this kind of impact.” There was also some kind of gibberish about a Beautiful Spectacle.
I had spent the first months after 9/11 picking up body parts of fellow citizens and placing them in red plastic bags. I had a solo show that September in 2001, but put my painting on hold indefinitely to focus on the 60-80 hour work weeks we were pulling at the FDNY. I read the Hirst quotes after I had just spent most of a year going to funerals on my days off. I promised myself I’d break the fuckhead’s nose.
He has “apologized” for what he said, but it rings hollow. When you are a fashion store brand like he is, it’s both socially and financially destructive to say stupid, offensive things like he did. His apology came through his company as any other corporate apology. I think free speech is one of the most important things we have in a free society. I also think we should be held responsible for the things we say.
Artists are responsible for the work they produce as well. In Hirst’s case, his work is pathetically unsophisticated and pretentious at the same time. If there’s anything redeeming about it, it’s that it manages to be both of these things at once. Not to mention that his dot paintings are a theft of the artist Thomas Downing, whose work is sincere and unpretentious. That might have something to do with Thomas Downing actually painting them.
Hirst’s work mirrors his words in being unsophisticated and pretentious.
I’m pretty sure I know where he’ll be tomorrow evening. He’s got a openings in all of the Gagosian spaces worldwide. I expect he’ll be at the Madison Avenue opening for several reasons. I could go up there and do it. I’d be a hero to so many artists and art professionals. To all those who feel his diseased affect on The Art World. But I may also be looked at like an attention starved painter who needed to ride the coat tales of this prick to get my work noticed. Thank you very much; I’m happy with the attention the work gets on its merits. I choose not to become a pony show. I still think he deserves it; a punch in the nose, that is.
It’s truly a sad world when a billionaire media manipulator has to jump on the 9/11 bandwagon and insult the murder of thousands of people because he’s not getting enough media attention!
Fuck you Damien Hirst.
James Austin Murray
Wednesday, January 11th 2012
In the end I went the subtle and non violent way. Here’s a few shots. I was hoping to find the man I like to think of as CancerFace but we didn’t cross paths even thought I punished myself by going to all three of his New York openings last night. I’m thinking of doing a kickstarter to buy one of his prints so I can paint it black. I hate giving him any money especially since he’s richer than most of his collector base. But I would love the opportunity to hide one of his banalities and consider it a contribution to society.
Still Photographs and video by filmmaker Josh Gilbert
Posted: Friday, January 13th 2012
If you haven’t seen this critique, it’s worth a look http://www.stuckism.com/Hirst/StoleArt.html