Fuelled by his fascination with mortality, Damien Hirst’s latest exhibition sees a return to the butterfly.
Preserving the mortal has always been a dominant theme in Hirst’s work, from his notorious piece The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a fourteen-foot shark suspended in formaldehyde, to his dissected sheep. For his latest show in collaboration with Other Criteria at the Paul Stolper Gallery, Hirst has re-worked the image of the butterfly in vibrant screen prints, shifting the focus from shock tactics and morbidity to simplicity and beauty.
The exhibition will contain 120 framed foil-block butterfly prints, which have been developed from four individual butterflies, each print as bold as the next. Expanding his colour palette from the Blue Paintings exhibition at the Wallace Collection in 2009, The Souls interprets butterflies in eighty different colour combinations. Forest greens sit next to rich reds and saturated magentas next to aquatic blues. Inspired by the unexpected peace and preserved beauty of a dead butterly, Hirst comments, “when [butterflies] are dead they look alive”.
Hirst’s paintings have always received mixed reviews, particularly regarding the similarity between his work and other artists that he cites as inspirations. In many ways, these new works are reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s screen prints and this is something he does not deny, “I’ve always liked pictures of the Warhol show where he hung all the small flower paintings all over the gallery. I hope that this show will have a similar kind of feel. The butterflies will look like people, individual and unique ‐ everybody’s trying to get to heaven I guess… or hell.“
The Souls runs from 7th October – 13th November 2010, Paul Stolper Gallery, 31 Museum St, London, WC1A 1LH.