Hypothalamus Acetone Powder is a screen print by Damien Hirst from 2012. This print shows a large grid-like composition of brightly coloured spots, set against a white backdrop. Notable to this print are the pencil sketches at the bottom of the print, showing a heart, a shark, a butterfly and a shining skull, alongside Hirst’s signature, pointing to some of the artist’s most iconic motifs that have appeared throughout his oeuvre.
This print is directly related to Hirst’s very famous series of prints, the Spots paintings, the first of which appeared as far back in his career as 1986. The Spots paintings have been compared to German artist Gerhard Richter’s colour chart paintings from the 1960s and 1970s. Richter’s paintings were produced as a means to generate paintings at random, allowing chance and mathematical logic to determine colour and form. Hirst’s Spots paintings contrastingly allow for an aesthetic that implies systematic logic but retains a process of expressiveness.
Hirst has explained of this: “The first idea was just questioning…painting. I came from that kind of background of Rothko painting: paint how you feel…When I got to Goldsmiths I had a real problem with that kind of expressionism. Because I suddenly realised that it wasn’t really working, but I still had the desire. So, I was trying to scientifically reduce that urge into something… Thinking of a sort of unemotional machine that makes paintings. Trying to place all those expressive decisions made about colour into a grid to create a system where you could just paint how you feel because in the end it is pointless. It doesn’t matter how you feel, they always come out happy…They just looked brilliant so I just carried on making them.”