Matter of Life and Death: Damien Hirst and Liviu Mocan by Christopher Watkin

By JubileeCentre 26 Sep 2013

Cambridge Paper writer and philosopher Chris Watkin discusses two artists, Damien Hirst and Liviu Mocan, and the contrasting way each of them explores the themes of life and death through their work.

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Hirst is one of the best known contemporary British artists, and controversial too; he is notorious for exhibiting dead animals in tanks of formaldehyde, and is in the record books for the highest revenue for a collection by a single artist sold at auction (£111 million in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis).

Mocan, by contrast, is a Romanian Christian sculptor who explores the theme of death and resurrection in much of his work. Mocan's best known sculpture is 'Invitation/Decalogue', a circle of 10 giant pillars, resembling fingers from inside the circle which narrow to great blades on the outside. This was exhibited in Geneva in 2009 for the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth.

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This paper explores the two sculptures first through what they assert through their form, size and audacity, before examining how death and life are actually absent from each, even though they appear to express these very themes.

Chris Watkin goes on to discuss the asymmetric nature of life and death in the sculptures in question, and how Mocan's work affirms that the two are not equal and opposite forces. Rather it's through resurrection that life is proved to be more than a match for death.

Finally, Watkin writes how there is a subtle performance of death going on in Hirst's decaying shark, and a similar performance of life surrounding Mocan's Illseed - 'a crescendo of hope'.


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