Themes of Paradise in Contemporary British and American Art

in Religion and the Arts
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Abstract

The idea of paradise has inspired the artistic imagination in, at least, two directions. One is an impulse to create a more perfect tomorrow by addressing social ills today. The other is sometimes manifest in a desire to recover a lost spiritual consciousness or creative imagination. These directions are evidenced in the work of two contemporary artists. In an exhibition entitled Tomorrow is Another Day, created for the 2017 Venice Biennale, Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford draws the viewer toward an imagined social horizon, beyond which dawns a more perfect world. Simultaneously on view in Venice, but not a part of the Biennale, Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable explores a rapacious hunger for immortality. Purporting to be the salvage of an ancient shipwreck, Hirst’s exhibition tests the modern, post-enlightenment, viewer’s willingness, even ability, to believe.

Themes of Paradise in Contemporary British and American Art

in Religion and the Arts

Sections

Figures

  • View in gallery
    Figure 1

    Mark Bradford Spoiled Foot [detail], 2016. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 2

    Installation view of Mark Bradford: Tomorrow Is Another Day, La Biennale di Venezia, U.S. Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 3

    Interior view of Process Collettivo, San Polo 2559a, Venice. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

  • View in gallery
    Figure 4

    Damien Hirst, Hydra and Kali Discovered by Four Divers

  • View in gallery
    Figure 5

    Damien Hirst, Demon with Bowl (Exhibition Enlargement)

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