Cathedral, St Paul is a screen print from Damien Hirst’s 2007 Cathedral series that shows a brightly coloured, kaleidoscopic composition. Made up of carefully arranged butterfly wings, this print is symmetrical in form and radiates with varying hues of blue, yellow and orange.
The prints in the Cathedral series directly reference stained-glass windows in their complex, geometric patterns and are reminiscent of Hirst’s famous ‘Kaleidoscope paintings’ that can be located throughout his career, the first from 2001 titled It’s A Wonderful World. The Cathedral series can most obviously be compared to Hirst’s Superstition series (2006), a series of kaleidoscopic paintings that take their form as pointed arch shaped canvas, mimicking the windows in a cathedral. In their beauty and precision, obscuring the wings of butterflies into an abstract pattern, Cathedral, St Paul synthesises intersections between religion, aesthetics and science, themes that have dominated Hirst’s artistic career.
The Cathedral series is indicative of Hirst’s obsession with butterflies and every print uses hundreds of butterfly wings to form its beautiful pattern. For Hirst, the butterfly is a ‘universal trigger’ that many people share in finding attractive and joyous. 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 in Cathedral, St Paul.