Damien Hirst's new space represents latest chapter in dominance of the art world

Damien Hirst is a man that has never been too far away from the centre of the art world, enjoying a triumphant romp to the top, courtesy of work that is powerful, sometimes controversial, but always compelling.
His work has subsequently often found itself at the forefront of conversation for many critics and punters alike across the country.
It has by no means been smooth sailing – 2012 saw many pieces of Hirst’s work lose as much as 30 per cent in value, but he has always bounced back in emphatic fashion, allowing him enough room to once again prove himself as one of the most important figures in the global art scene.

Change of tact

But now it seems the focus has shifted. Hirst has in his latest venture gone from artist to curator, unveiling a new gallery designed by architect Caruso St John that will showcase a number of pieces from his substantial collection.
The new exhibition, situated just a few hundred yards from Tate Britain at the Newport Street Gallery, is pretty basic. A rather understated warehouse conversion largely blends in with its surroundings; something that those familiar with Hirst’s work as an artist will maybe find a little strange.
However, Hirst is, for once, not the one taking centre stage, at least not intentionally anyway.
Instead, it is the work of British abstractionists that are elevated and returned to the perch from whence they were once knocked by Hirst himself.

Hoyland takes centre stage

One such name is that of the late John Hoyland, an artist who Hirst clearly believes to be something of a strong influence on his own work despite being seen by a number of critics as the man who has brought about a move away from painting at the top of British art.
Whereas many of Hirst’s works have gained a reputation for standing out and being divisive, the gallery itself has a cooling and harmonious atmosphere, with spaces that look as though they have been created specifically for Hoyland’s array of widescreen canvases.
Upon entering the first room, visitors are greeted by a collection more or less devoted to paintings in red, the second room to green, with the whole building acting as a platform to his unique series of luminous works.
The final room in the gallery is largely used to demonstrate how Hoyland later became more interested in absorbing various sensations from nature.
Hirst’s critics are unlikely to be won over by his collection, but those keen to learn more about the artist’s own tastes and influences will see this as a great source of fascination.