Six Pills (large) is a screen print from 2005 by Damien Hirst. The work shows six large pills on display in a mirrored medical cabinet across two shelves, each hand painted and varying in colour and size. Upon first impression, Six Pills (large) is sterile in its aesthetic, but like many of Hirst’s works it brings profound questions of the human condition into play.
Hirst has explained why he is interested in the medical pill motif commenting, “Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art. They’re all designed to make you buy them…they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty.”
Reminiscent of his famous sculpture from 2008 Memories of/Moments with You, Hirst brings themes of life and death into dialogue with one another, disrupting strict boundaries between sickness and health, and addiction and rehabilitation. In Memories of/Moments with You, the pills appeared as little sculptures in themselves, rather than mass produced objects, due to their hand crafted and hand painted form that reveals the artist’s touch. Inspired by minimalism of the 1960s, Hirst’s pill cabinets recall the work of American sculptor Donald Judd in their incessant repetition and use of colour.