Flies and resin on canvas

182.9 x 365.8 cm (each) Overall dimensions: 365.76 x 365.76 cm (144 x 144 in.)

A pictogram made of dead flies trapped in resin, representing biological danger, is displayed on two huge panels. Emerging from a black surface with iridescent reflections, it looks like a spectacular sign of death.

True to Damien Hirst's hybrid practice, Cancer deconstructs painting’s classic conventions. He replaces paint with organic material whose fragile, macabre nature gives the work the dimension of a modern-day vanity. Hirst explores the flaws of human existence, marked by death and illness.This work appears to be a visual illustration of his poem Cancer Chronicles (2003), which opens with the line "Flies: The Martyrdom of Saint James the Greater.”

Cancer will be exhibited for the first time by the Pinault Collection during the “Au-delà de la couleur” ("Beyond Colour") show at the Couvent des Jacobins in Rennes in June 2021.

Damien Hirst's other artwork