LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Damien Hirst may have slowed down since bursting onto the scene as unofficial leader of the Young British Artist movement in the 1990s, but he remains one of the most divisive figures in the art world today.

His For the Love of God 2007, a skull encrusted with 8,601 diamonds which sold for $100 million, and The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living 1991, a dead shark floating in formaldehyde, have been both derided as stunts and heralded as groundbreaking.

Since 1986, Hirst also produced a series he calls spot paintings — canvases featuring grids of dots of various colors and sizes.

Of the roughly 1,400 canvases, 300 will be on display from January 12 spanning the globe in 11 galleries run by U.S. art dealer Larry Gagosian. Roughly half are on loan from private dealers while the other half are for sale.

Hirst produced the paintings through his studio with the help of assistants but reportedly only painted five of them, causing some to question the integrity of the collection.

Recently, he agreed to answer questions from Reuters via email, discussing his process and taking on his detractors.

Q: What is behind this notion of dedicating all 11 Gagosian galleries to your spot paintings?

A: “I have been making spot paintings for almost 25 years and have gone down many different roads with them and have always wanted to do a show that told the story of this body of work. The show is a retrospective with loans from over 150 collectors from 20 different countries, but of course there are also some works for sale.”

Q: Can you talk about the genesis of the spot paintings? Where did the concept come from and why a factory process instead of the usual way of applying brush to canvas?

A: “Rather than think about whether a painting is important or high brow, I tried to imagine a painting that if you left it in the street outside a busy bar would it be still there in the morning or would someone think it looked cool enough to take home? They are made by applying a brush to canvas and they are hand made in that way. I think it s important that they are handmade but equally important that they look machine made. I ve never had a problem with using assistants.