Histidyl is an etching from 2008 by Damien Hirst produced in an edition of 150. Showing a large grid of coloured dots, evenly distributed across the print, this work is a print edition of one of Hirst’s famous Spots paintings. No coloured dot is the same in this rectangular composition and the systematic grid is set against a plain grey backdrop.
Each with the same pictorial and optical efficiency it is almost impossible to decipher each of Hirst’s Spots paintings from one another. Despite their deceiving simplicity, these works are laborious and painstaking to produce. They are also deceptive in their joyous appearance, as Hirst has explained: “If you look closely at any one of these paintings, a strange thing happens: because of the lack of repeated colours there is no harmony…So in every painting there is a subliminal sense of unease: the colours project so much joy it’s hard to feel it, but it’s there.”
Integral to the impact of the Spots paintings is their endlessness and infinite potential towards many various colour combinations. This print is almost mathematical in its formulaic composition that is repeated across all the Spots paintings, with grids of various sizes. In the 1980s, the Spots paintings marked a shift in Hirst’s artistic career, where he began to employ assistants to complete the painstaking and laborious task of producing these works. The apparent lack of human intervention in Histidyl further emphasises the mathematical precision that underlines their compositions.