Damien Hirst has had a recent blockbuster exhibition featuring his latest butterfly motifs ‘The Souls’, which opened its doors to the public after a string of good reviews and optimistic press.
Upon entering the exhibition the subject matter was unavoidable – butterflies. Floor-to -ceiling, wall-to-wall butterflies; a lepidopterist’s fantasy.
The pale, bright room is filled with white frames lined up in grids. Within each frame is a gleaming foil print of a butterfly, in one of four different shapes and a multitude of different colour combinations. The butterflies shimmer when the light hits them.
The subject of the butterfly is synonymous with Damien Hirst and ‘Souls’ envelops several of the artist's well-known concerns: life and death, brutality and beauty, and, indeed, the beauty of dead butterflies.
Hirst has been questioned on whether he is a ‘butterfly obsessive’, responding: “I've always liked that kind of natural history. I'm interested, first of all, in the fact they all look alive when they're dead. They represent the soul.”
It is seemingly apparent that the desire from collectors for these pieces never seems to falter. In part that is down to the lure of the Hirst brand, but largely to one other aspect of Hirst’s artwork: quality. The works on display are undeniably beautiful and expertly crafted.
The editions are produced using a print technique called foil blocking. Each butterfly is done in three stages: the bottom, base colour print is then accentuated by two more sparkling layers that pick out details on the patterned wings or the shape of the thoraxes.
Everything about this exhibition is geared towards viewers' experience of themselves as individuals and this print exhibition is a reminder of Hirst's power as an image-maker, and of his ability to create images and projects that can touch viewers.
It's tempting, in a sea of colour combinations on glittery wings, to pick your favourites, and to indulge that the act of picking is unique to you as a character. Essentially your choices are defining you and the exhibition and artwork question what these choices reveal of you, of your soul?
The ‘Souls’ editions are available now through our London and Brighton galleries.
To enquire about other works and artists we have in the gallery call +44 (0)20 7240 7909