Elation is a screen print by Damien Hirst that depicts a symmetrical, kaleidoscopic pattern made up of many butterfly wings. This mesmerising composition is depicted in various shades of blue, forming a highly aesthetic image, and is linked to the artist’s kaleidoscope paintings from the 2000s.
Evoking the rose windows of Gothic cathedrals, Hirst’s kaleidoscope paintings are reminiscent of his many kaleidoscopic paintings from the 2000s. For these works, Hirst used hundreds of real butterfly wings to create meticulous patterns, thus obscuring the wings from butterflies in the real world.
Elation is indicative of Hirst’s desire to bring together themes of science, aesthetics and religion through the leitmotif of the butterfly. Recalling someone once saying to him: “Butterflies are beautiful, but it’s a shame they have disgusting hairy bodies in the middle,” Hirst in works like this chose only to display the dazzling wings of the insect. The butterfly has been used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery represents resurrection. In bringing together the fragility of the butterfly wings with the monumentality of religious art, Hirst investigates seemingly conflicting ideas that are at the core of humanity.