Opium is a signed photographic print by Damien Hirst from 2000. The print shows many spots arranged methodically in rows, identical in size and shape. Each spot in the print is a different colour and every print in the series represents a unique set of colour combinations, marking Hirst’s fascination with exploring colour and form. Opium is unusual amongst other Spot works since the spots are set against a sparkling bronze backdrop.
The Spots paintings, on which this set of prints are based, form the basis for an endless exploration of colour and form. Indeed, Hirst has only occasionally halted production of his Spots paintings in his career, continually returning to them with a new variation, each associated with a specific drug group.
Hirst has commented on the exploration of colour in his Spots paintings, explaining, “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. We are used to picking out chords of other colours to create meaning. This can’t happen. 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.”