A shark in a tank?  A diamond skull?  A giant ashtray with cigarette butts?  It’s not what it looks like.  It’s more than that.  That’s what this exhibit is about”, according to Tessel Peperkamp at the ALRIWAQ Doha Exhibition Space.

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Damien Hirst pushes boundaries to help us open up and go beyond our boundaries.  He is one of the most contemporary artist, and his largest collection of contemporary work is now in the conservative city of Doha.  His art is known to challenge the way people see the world.  We wanted to see how and why Doha greeted Damien’s art and had to go.

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Here are some interesting images of the exhibit, showing the fascinating contrast of Qatari citizens and tourists walking through this controversial exhibit.  Why Doha?  Jean-Paul Engelen, Qatar Museum Director, notes, “Sheikha Mayassa is committed to contemporary art and education is a key factor in introducing Damien Hirst to Qatar.  She and the Qatari royal family understand the importance of art, and how it can be used to strike up a mutually beneficial dialogue across different cultures.”  He adds, “Relics is part of a series of cultural projects to encourage local audiences to take part in debates and discussions about the arts that can challenge our understanding and unveil new perspectives.”

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Visitors reactions varied, “We don’t get it!?”  “This is morbid…very disturbing.”  “Damien’s pushes the boundaries to open up our boundaries.” “I find Damien Hirst’s exploration of life and death intriguing.”  Hirst explores ideas that society might consider unacceptable, uncomfortable, or inappropriate.  He dares to explore the complex relationship of big issues – life, death, science, religion, in a mind-bending way.  As a result, his work draws reactions from those who are totally fascinated by it, to those who are repulsed, or left scratching their head.

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One of the most controversial pieces is the diamond skull called “For The Love of God” and the exhibit guard shared, “it’s a platinum cast of a skull set with 8,601 flawless pavé-set diamonds.”  Hirst believes that, “You can frighten people with death or an idea of their own mortality, or it can actually give them vigour.” 

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Our favorite pieces were his well-known “spot paintings.  Hirst describes this series as a means of “pinning down the joy of colour.” 

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How does this exhibit change the way you see the world?

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The exhibit runs through January 22, 2014, so if you’re in Doha….

To find out more, go to www.damienhirstqatar.qa or one of the ALRIWAQ social media pages.

or visit artist Damien Hirst site:  www.damienhirst.com/

Written By & Photo Credits:  Patricia Stone, travel writer and consultant

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