A familiar high point in Hirst's career was his being awarded the coveted Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art Prize at the World Glass Now '94 exhibition on the strength of an impressive, three-legged, cauldron-like vessel that was aligned in front of a two-dimensional engraved representation of the same form, a large brooding image straddling a grim and fibrous mound of charcoal-black density. This work perfectly exemplified the formal idiom with which Hirst is most closely associated. This entails a type of heavy-set and flaring vessel, asymmetrical in section, partly translucent and partly opaque, partly blown and partly cast, rendered with a strong sculptural sensibility and often enclosing within its misty volume a pendulous sac of deep burgundy or purplish-blue hue. Recently, the thick and wavy rims of Hirst's forms are rendered with an applied and engraved platinum band, a band that was formerly rendered by the artist in a gold color.
Hirst's exploration of the relationship between a three-dimensional work and its two-dimensional representation, between object and image, between image and shadow or image and reflection, is an increasingly important aspect of his glass of the last five or six years. It is worth providing at this juncture, a word or two concerning Hirst's training and background. His early training was not, as it happens, in glass per se, but rather in sculpture, printmaking and photography.
His concentration on glass came later in his studies and it is easy to see, in the current work in particular, the extent to which his personal language is informed by his experience of sculpture and of printmaking. Now, I mentioned at the beginning of this note that the contemporary artist who chooses to make extensive use of precious metals to decorate works in glass or ceramic (or in any other medium for that matter), is faced with a serious conceptual challenge, whether or not the artist realizes this at the time.
Similarly we might say we equal justification, that the contemporary artist who makes "ritual" or "ceremonial" vessels also confronts a conceptual challenge of a similar nature.