Black Utopia is a is an inkjet, glaze, and foil block print from Damien Hirst’s Utopia series from 2013. The print shows an image of Hirst’s sculpture from 2000, The Void, the artist’s first pill cabinet work that he ever made. Using the medical pill as a central motif to this work, Hirst explores themes of life and death in contemporary society throughout the Utopia series.
The display of pills as high art represents the absurdity in controlling feelings in body and mind through modern medicine. Hirst has explained why he is interested in the medical pill motif saying that, “Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art. They’re all designed to make you buy them…they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty.”
As with many of Hirst’s most famous works, Black Utopia foregrounds the artist’s preoccupation with the human condition. Disrupting any binary discussion of life and death through the ambivalent symbol of the medical pill, Hirst brings sickness, health, addiction and rehabilitation into dialogue with one another in this series. Black Utopia is a mesmerising and visually complex image due to the unusual display of pills in varying sizes in a mirrored cabinet.