"No. He doesn't paint them himself. He has assistants that do that for him."
"Well, you could say that I suppose. He's not really a draughtsman. He's more an ideas man. Other people act out his wishes. In that way we could look at modern artists as being just a little bit like God"
This is a conversation I overhead when I called in to the new Damien Hirst exhibition at All Hallows on the Wall in the City of London, a small 18th century Anglican church.
The show is more of Hirst's medicine related work. Like some kind of modern art Jeremy Paxman he once again poses the banal question: "Are medicines a bit like religion?" To make his point there are various prints of tablets given the names of the apostles, a huge paracetemol as a communion wafer, some bleeding hearts and a cross with pills set into its surface.
Like my most recent encounter with Brand-Hirst at his Serpentine Gallery MurderMe show I was distinctly underwhelmed which is probably why I was earwigging a Derek Nimmo sound-a-like offering his own thoughts to a group of Spanish tourists. I don't know if he was an official representative of the project giving a tour or an opportune evangelist sticking his beak in.
"I think they were dead already" he said without much conviction as the Spaniards looked up at the butterflies attached to the three new paintings that surround the altar. I was waiting for some Christian analogy. Nothing came.
But there was one piece I really liked. A representation of Christ crucified made up of framed prints of body parts presumably taken from medical textbooks. Pierced feet. Stab wounds. Open heart surgery. It may not have been subtle or even particularly well executed but unusually for a modern Hirst piece it was oddly moving.