Big Love is a screen print from Damien Hirst’s 2016 Love series that shows an array of butterflies captured on a bold red heart and set against an off-white backdrop. Titled after the Beatles song of the same name, this print radiates positivity.
Hirst sees the butterfly motif as an idealised image that is separate from the hairy-bodied insect itself: “Pretty butterflies and pretty flowers and love. The image is so drenched in all that kind of stuff that the real thing doesn’t exist. When you see the real thing, it’s hardly Playschool, which I quite liked. Because I’d called In and Out of Love and my ideas of love are really similar. I do have the birthday-card kind of idea, and then there’s the harsh reality of life.”
Speaking to the artist’s preoccupation with the concept that art mirrors life, his use of the butterfly motif has remained prominent throughout his career. Not only is each butterfly born with a unique pattern that mimics the individuality that underscores much of human life, but the butterfly for Hirst symbolises growth, change, life and death. The butterfly motif appears both in printed editions as well as in installations where visitors are situated in a room of live butterflies.