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Damien Hirst remembers 'immortal' 90s with new show

Hirst was one of the enfant terrible of the British arts scene in the 1980s and '90s
Hirst was one of the enfant terrible of the British arts scene in the 1980s and '90s Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS AFP
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London (AFP)

Turner prize-winner Damien Hirst looks back on his time as one of the most notorious "Young British Artists" in a new solo retrospective show opening in London on Wednesday.

"End of a Century" includes more than 50 installations, paintings and sculptures from his time as a student in the 1980s through to the 1990s, when he and others such as Tracey Emin dominated the UK art scene.

There are some well-known works, including from the iconic series Natural History -- animals preserved in formaldehyde and displayed in large tanks -- alongside others that have never before been shown in public.

Speaking to AFP about his work back then, he recalled a time of drugs and drinking, saying: "It felt like a massive celebration, and I felt immortal in some way.

"So it's quite funny to see the works in here. They look a little bit old and broken and there's pencil marks.

"Things are ageing in a kind of nostalgic way, whereas at the time I really thought I was immortal and it would never stop."

Hirst is staging the retrospective at his Newport Street Gallery. He worried about exhibiting other artists during the coronavirus outbreak, so decided to show his own work.

He kept painting during lockdown, saying he was used to working on his own -- although he had to stop using assistants.

"I started mixing my own paints, cleaning my own brushes -- god forbid!" he joked.

"What kept me sane really was being able to go to the studio every day and paint."

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