Hope is a signed etching produced by renowned contemporary artist, Damien Hirst. The print, made in 2009, depicts a mesmerising pattern of concentric circles. Centred around one small butterfly in the middle of the composition, when looked at closely it becomes apparent that the circles are composed of hundreds of butterflies. Hirst uses pastel colours in this print, with blue and yellow dominating the composition. This contrasts with other prints made by Hirst which tend to privilege bold and vibrant colours such as red and royal blue.
Hirst’s use of butterflies in this print is representative of the artist’s fascination with this insect. The butterfly has become closely associated with Hirst and his visual language as the artist frequently incorporates them into his work. In 1991, early on in his artistic career, Hirst produced a controversial installation in which butterflies emerged from pupae attached to white painted canvases kept in a humid exhibition room.
Hirst was attracted to butterflies due to the spiritual symbolism they carry. The Greeks used butterflies to depict the Psyche and soul and in Christian imagery, butterflies have been used to signify the resurrection. Using butterflies in his art is a means for the artist to touch on the theme of religion, as well as questions of life and death.