Damien Hirst at the Punta della Dogana & Palazzo Grassi...


For the first time ever, the two Venetian venues of the Pinault Collection house only one artist: Damien Hirst (Bristol, 1965). The 5000 sq-mt of both buildings, Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, dedicated to Contemporary Art, are currently occupied by "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable", an exhibition about a shipwreck occurred during Antiquity. On display, the treasures found under the sea

Demon with Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement), by Damien Hirst
Materials: painted resin / Measures:1822 x 789 x 1144 cm
The large scale of the pieces, still covered with corals and other marine flora and fauna, remind us of the huge pieces of Antiquity, like Rhodes' Colossus, quite similar in height as the torso which opens the exhibition on the entrance hall at Palazzo Grassi. But how is it that Hirst discovered it and moved it to get it to this space? The piece is in fact a replica of a smaller bronze figurine recovered from the shipwreck. Apparently, the torso had a saurian head, discovered in the valley of Tigris in 1932, that represented a demon that the Babylonians considered the King of demons. In his hand he holds a bowl for human blood
Two Garudas, by Damien Hirst
Materials: silver, paint / Measures: 36.5 x 23.4 x 27 cm
The Warrior and the Bear, by Damien Hirst
Materials: silver, paint / Measures: 97.5 x 37.4 x 29.1 cm
Huehueteotl and Olmec Dragon, by Damien Hirst
Materials: silver, paint / Measures: 53 x 44 x 40 cm
Head of Sphinx, by Damien Hirst
Materials: silver, paint / Measures: 64.3 x 30.3 x 36.5 

General view of the exhibition
As explained in the signs, the Unbelievable was a ship which original name was Apistos and it carried the amazing collection of Aulus Calidius Amotan, a freed slave better known as Cif Amotan II. The load was destined for the construction of a Temple dedicated to the Sun in Asia. In 2008 the precious cargo of the Apistos was rescued in the eastern coasts of Africa and the discovery can be seen in the screens placed throughout the museum.  However, the collection on display, 100 pieces approximately, contain replicas and also modern objects. According to the curators, the exhibition mixes objects of the discovered treasure with a series of contemporary replicas and other artifacts rescued from the bottom of the ocean. Among them we see bronze sculptures, marble busts, swords and helmets, coins, jewels and other historic artifacts. The presence of Mickey Mouse, Goofy and the characters of Disney's "Jungle Book", or a piece featuring Rihanna give, to this strange exhibition, an entire new dimension: it's not a representation or reproduction of an epic collection of Antiquity but an extravagant and inexplicable mixture of objects.
Mickey carried by Driver, by Damien Hirst
Materials: coated aluminium, printed poliéster and acylic lightbox / Measures: 152.8 x 229 x 10 cm
Mickey, by Damien Hirst
Material: bronze / Measures: 91 x 71 x 61 cm
Best Friends, by Damien Hirst
Material: bronze / Measures: 72.5 x 136.7 x 82 cm
Goofy, by Damien Hirst
Material: bronze / Measures: 126 x 56.7 x 58.7 cm
Hirst's creative genius makes us smile and question ourselves how much truth and falseness lies in his approach. The execution is excellent and the montage, carefully studied. Nothing has stopped the artist: neither the traditions nor the historic codes. As Pinault said about the exhibition: “Hirst's artworks don't fit in any aesthetic category or structure. However, there's a certain mythological power in them”.
Aspect of Katie Ishtar Yo-landi, by Damien Hirst
Materials: bronze and gold leaves / Measures: 164.5 x 90.9 x 66.6 cm
Bust of the Collector, by Damien Hirst
Material: bronze / Measures: 81 x 65 x 36.5 cm
At the Punta della Dogana, a huge 5 mts solar Aztec calendar rises, inexplicably, in front of a sculpture of The Warrior with the Bear, taken from the tales of Ancient Greece.
Calendar Stoneby Damien Hirst
Measures: 422.5 x 475.8 x 172.3 cm
The Warrior and the Bear, by Damien Hirst
Material: bronce / Medidas: 713 x 260 x 203 cm
It is said that this is Hirst's most ambitious and complex project, to which he dedicated 10 years of his career. He was criticized for making replicas of artworks of the 14th century, but he said that the exhibition was influenced by several cultures and histories throughout the planet. The truth is that this is an extraordinary, ambitious and excessive project that places Hirst in a very particular place in the Contemporary Art world. The title  ("Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable") comes from the narrative in which this exhibition of mythological, historical and fantasy elements is centered, mixed of course with Hirst's super creative imagination.

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Liliana Wrobel

Production & Translation

Carla Mitrani