Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 16:07 UK

Hirst pays tribute to late artist

Angus Fairhurst (r) with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas
Fairhurst (r) studied with Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas

Artist Damien Hirst has paid tribute to his "great friend" and contemporary Angus Fairhurst, who has apparently committed suicide at the age of 41.

"He always supported me in fair weather and foul," said Hirst.

"He shone like the moon and as an artist he had just the right amount of slightly round the bend. I loved him."

One of the "Young British Artists" who rose to prominence in the 1990s, Fairhurst is thought to have taken his life on Saturday in Argyll, Scotland.

Born in Pembury, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, he studied art at London's Goldsmiths College in the 1980s, where he formed a lasting friendship and artistic collaboration with Hirst and their fellow student Sarah Lucas.

He was instrumental in organising the Freeze exhibition in 1988, which launched the careers of many of the so-called "YBAs".

'Immensely intelligent'

He exhibited at the Apocalypse contemporary art show at the Royal Academy in 2000 and had his work shown alongside Lucas and Hirst's at Tate Britain in 2004.

Angus Fairhurst's A Couple of Differences From Thinking and Feeling II (2003)
His work included cartoon depictions and clay models of gorillas
Fairhurst's last show, at London's Sadie Coles gallery, came to an end on Saturday, the day of his death.

The gallery has described him as "an intensely intelligent artist" who "had a huge number of close friends from all walks of life".

Lucas, a former partner of Fairhurst, described him as "a lovely man" who was "funny and kind".

He was, she said, "very much loved by all his friends" and "very much loved by me".

Fairhurst, who never reached the heights of his more celebrated contemporaries, was known for featuring practical jokes in his pieces.

Gallery Connections, in which he networked together the phones of galleries in London so they unwittingly spoke to each other, remains on show at Tate Britain.

'Witty and perceptive'

"Angus Fairhurst was always deprecating about his own talent," Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota said.

"But he made some of the most engaging, witty and perceptive works of his generation and was an enormously influential friend of other British artists."

Strathclyde Police said the body of a 41-year-old man had been found in woodland in Bridge of Orchy on 29 March.

It said a post-mortem would be carried out to establish the cause of death but that foul play was not suspected.

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