Hirst's artistic odyssey takes a startling turn when he draws inspiration from Nitobe Inazō's groundbreaking work Bushidō:
The Soul of Japan", published in 1900. Nitobe's explanation of the samurai's ethical code, with his elegant formulation of the eight virtues, serves as the conceptual basis for Hirst's exploration. Justice, courage, mercy,
Courtesy, honesty, honor, loyalty and self-control - these virtues, according to Nitobe, formed the basis of the samurai's existence and shaped their daily and professional lives.
The juxtaposition of Nitobe's venerable ethical framework with Hirst's signature artistic styles, reminiscent of impressionism, pointillism and the dynamism of action painting, creates an exquisite symphony in The Virtues.
Each print in the series bears the mantle of one of these virtues, a nuanced exploration of the intersection between ethical principles and aesthetic exuberance.
"Damien Hirst's homage to Nitobe's cultural bridging, underlined by the assertion that, as far as man is concerned, there is neither East nor West," underlines the
Universality of human experience. The cherry blossoms, a symbol of fleeting beauty and the cycle of life and death, serve as the thematic core. With an astute reference to artistic trends, Hirst orchestrates an ensemble of color, texture and form that evokes the spontaneity of impressionist brushstrokes, the meticulous precision of pointillist dots and the visceral energy of action
In his own words, Hirst illustrates the deep nature of cherry blossoms: "It's about longing and how we process love and why we need it." The fleeting yet captivating beauty of the flowers reflects the fragility of our own existence. Hirst asks us to confront the transience of life, embodying the dichotomy of hope and hopelessness in the delicate petals against the clear blue sky.
As we move through the convoluted labyrinth of Hirst's The Virtues, we should heed his call to savor the fleeting splendor of life. The flowers, both optimistic and fragile, poignantly remind us of our shared humanity. With this masterful synthesis of ethics and aesthetics, Damien Hirst invites us to immerse ourselves in the vivid colors of existence and challenges us to make the most of life's fleeting moments.