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12 Woodcut spots is a collection of prints that are just quintessentially Damien Hirst, comprised of his signature coloured dots.. The series is representative of some of Hirst’s most iconic works to his name, the spot paintings. The spot paintings that depict rows of spots in a grid-like formula, each spot a different colour, are an exploration of colour and form that is distinctly Hirstian.
As with all of the spot paintings that Hirst has produced in his career, the prints in this series are formulaic and crisp in form. The spots are each perfect circles, spaced equally apart and set against clinical white backdrops. Their clean edges and bright, flat colours indicate a lack of human touch in the production of this print. The spot paintings marked a turn in Hirst’s career where he began to employ assistants to help produce his work. The process of making the spot paintings added a factory-like approach to his artistic practice, heavily influenced by Pop artist Andy Warhol. Despite the apparent simplicity of the 12 Woodcut Spots prints, the paintings are painstaking and laborious to produce in their precision and endlessness. Hirst explained that his goal was to create work that seemed as though it was produced ‘by a person trying to paint like a machine.’
The cold repetition and sterile aesthetic of the 12 Woodcut Spots collection is reminiscent of Hirst’s early pill cabinet works such as The Void from 2000 and his prolific Pharmaceutical paintings that span across his career. Both works evoke a sense of endless sameness and directly allude to the realms of medicine and science. The titles from the 12 Woodcut Spots series are taken randomly from the chemical company Sigma-Aldrich’s catalogue ‘Biochemicals for Research and Diagnostic Reagents’ that Hirst first encountered in the early 1990s. The grid formula is integral to the endless potential that Hirst’s spot paintings hold and allow for a rational and precise exploration of colour combinations. Of his famous spot paintings, Hirst has said: “I believe all painting and art should be uplifting for the viewer. I feel it inside me. It gives me a buzz.”