artist / participant
The Last Supper, a suite of 13 screenprints, each measuring 152.5 x 101.5cms, from the British Council Collection. The prints mimick the graphic design of medicinal industry packaging, using colours reminiscent of Hirst’s ongoing Spot Painting series, inspired by commercial drug firm product catalogues.
In addition to the product number and dosage information, each typographically individual print has the drug name substituted for pedestrian British foods such as Beans, Chips and Cornish Pasty – initially perhaps creating associations with the artist himself and his forays into restaurant ownership, though it is doubtful that such foods would ever be served in Pharmacy.
The biographical theme is furthered through the familiar company trademarks being replaced with the artist’s own name or a stylised D+H logo – corporate and authoritative. This simple alteration immediately raises questions about the nature of belief in large corporations and to a degree, the blind faith inherent in contemporary society for pharmaceutical drugs to ease our pain and heal the body.
Parallels to the faith and commitment evident in religious belief are simply evoked through the appropriation of the conceptual structure of the Last Supper. 13 images representing the 13 participants at the meal, the title itself suggesting nutrition for the body and the spirit, coupled with decay and ultimately death – the ongoing theme of Hirst’s work.
The 13 prints form iconoclastic portraits of Christ and the twelve disciples through the pop art visual device of generic mass production and the commercial world.
The Last Supper