‘Shark tank’ artist is made into an exhibit

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A new portrait of Damien Hirst will be unveiled later this year showing the artist as if he has been preserved in formaldehyde in one of his own works.

The six-foot oil painting, by Jonathan Yeo, shows Hirst, who grew up in Leeds, sitting in a display case wearing a chemical suit and holding a gas mask.

Hirst is known for a series of works in which he preserved animals, including a shark and a sheep, in formaldehyde.

Mr Yeo said: “I wanted to reference elements of both who Damien is and what he has done. The mask in his hand helps create an ambiguity, suggesting possible military connotations, that he might be diving or confronting a riot.

“Even when we realise it’s a chemical dry suit, which he uses to make his formaldehyde works, it’s not entirely clear if he is making something or whether he is being pickled in one of his own tanks.

“The pose was intended to reflect ironically his supposed status as dark overlord of the contemporary art scene and hopefully some observers will be reminded of Velazquez’s and Bacon’s Popes.

“Ultimately his faint smirk is the giveaway, both that he was a knowing collaborator in the choice of composition, and that his mischievous sense of humour is never far from anything he does.” The painting is part of an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which opens in September.

Hirst said: “Like Turner strapping himself to the ship’s mast in order to create a true likeness of a storm, Yeo time and time again achieves what should be impossible: creating a true picture, an image or a glimpse, of people we think we know and of those we’ve never met.”

The show also includes Yeo’s portraits of Rupert Murdoch, Grayson Perry and Sienna Miller.

Celtic's Tom Rogic. Picture by  Jeff Holmes/PA Wire.

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