Norleucine is a woodcut print from Damien Hirst’s 12 Woodcut Spots series from 2010. The print is a square composition with four circles positioned in each corner. Set against a plain white backdrop, the spots are depicted in flattened colours of navy yellow, blue, red and purple. Using contrasting colours and a methodical composition, this print is an exploration of colour and form that is distinctly Hirstian.
The cold repetition and sterile aesthetic of the 12 Woodcut Spots series is reminiscent of Hirst’s early pill cabinet works such as The Void from 2000. Both works evoke a sense of endless sameness and directly allude to the realms of medicine and science. Indeed, the chemical name of each print in this series evokes a nondescript powder or pill that is abstract in its scientific mode.
In its depiction of many spots, methodically arranged, this print appears like a packet of medical pills, further exacerbated by the print’s title. Norleucine is formulaic and crisp in form, evoking a lack of human or artistic touch. Indeed, for many of the spot paintings throughout his career, Hirst employed assistants to produce them. This was part of the artist’s aims towards creating works that appear to have been produced mechanically, despite the way in which these prints and paintings are painstaking and laborious to produce.