Xylene Cyanol Dye Solution is a signed etching by Damien Hirst from 2005. The print shows a grid of many spots, methodically arranged and each the same size and shape. Every spot etching depicts a unique combination of colours, with every spot on the print a different colour and evoking a sense of joy.
The spot paintings and prints are some of Hirst’s most widely recognised works and recur thematically throughout his career. First emerging as a concept in 1986, the spot paintings were then displayed in the 1988 Freeze group show in London’s Dockland’s, and have spanned Hirst’s oeuvre into the 2010s. The spot paintings are crisp and formulaic in form and composition, combining the absurdity of Dadaism with a gentle mockery of the processes of pointillist painting.
The cold repetition and sterile aesthetic of Xylene Cyanol Dye Solution 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.