Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain

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Artist: Damien Hirst

Year: 2013

Date of Action: October 2013

Region: Middle East

Location: Doha, Qatar

Subject: Nudity, Religion

Medium: Sculpture

Confronting Bodies:

Description of Artwork: "Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain," is a part of Damien Hirst's exhibition Relics. The sculpture of Saint Bartholomew depicted the skinned martyr with his skin hung over his arm, with a fig leaf covering his genitals.

The Incident: When the statue was first presented in the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong, Hirst added the leaf to prevent controversy amongst Chinese collectors. Hirst said that the leaf could have been removed when the statue was moved to Doha because Damien Hirst believed that people were more open-minded there. Francesco Bonami decided to leave the fig on the statue, but denied that it had been placed on the statue to prevent offense and controversy.

Results of Incident: The statue remained in Doha, with the fig leaf. Bonami said that "it is not about shocking people, we're coming not just to an Islamic culture, but a place where the general public has not been exposed to contemporary art. The covering of genitalia with fig leaves has been a longstanding tradition throughout history. The fig leaf has been nicknamed "nature's jockstrap"


Damien Hirst artworks censored for sensitive audiences in China and Qatar

Art, From Conception to Birth in Qatar