Methyl Aspartic Acid is a print by Damien Hirst from 2011 that six perfect circles and three half circles composed in a grid. This print is a variation on Hirst’s famous Spot paintings, arguably his best-known series, of which there are over 1,400 works on canvas. The Spots paintings are crucial to understanding Hirst’s quasi-scientific rationality that underpins much of his practice.
Hirst works almost exclusively in series and his scale of production is considerable enough to merit employing a large number of assistants across various studios in Gloucester, Devon and London. The artist has commented on this: “I like to do series… I think that I try to avoid doing something unique, or being unique. If you feel like that, you end up benefiting by using other people. I like the idea of a factory to produce work, which separates the work from the ideas, but I wouldn’t like a factory to produce ideas.”
Alongside the other Spots paintings in his oeuvre, the formulaic composition of Methyl Aspartic Acid explores the boundaries between aesthetics and science, based in Hirst’s fascination with colour combinations and harmony. The print embodies Hirst’s artistic oeuvre that interrogates the intersections between the scientific and the artistic that are wrongly assumed to be oppositional in contemporary culture.