Contemporary Print Market Report


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Critical Review

Like his Love series, Hirst’s 2015 Love Poems is a 6-print portfolio characterised by hyperreal butterflies scattered across saturated colour planes. Each print is square in format and shows an array of beautifully rendered butterflies scattered across the composition. Set against brightly coloured backdrops, the butterflies are placed seemingly at random in each print, some positioned upside down.

Many of Hirst’s prints depict the same references, namely butterflies, skulls, spots and pills, but the design and composition of the references are different in every series. For instance, the Love Poems series is almost identical in subject matter and format to Hirst’s The Wonder Of You series from the same year, their differences only in colour and in the latter’s rectangular frame. This continual use of the same subject matter is reflected in Hirst’s keen use of series in his career and of this he has said: “You get some sort of security from the repetition of a series. If you say something twice, it’s pretty convincing. It’s more convincing than if you say it once.”

The butterfly motif has been used by Hirst throughout his career in the appearance of life that the insects retain in death. Indeed, this series is reminiscent of his series of paintings entitled The Four Elements (Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow, Green and Blue) from 2005. These earlier works were the first example of the artist’s use of painted butterflies which were to become one of his most recognisable symbols of his career. Speaking of his obsession with butterflies Hirst has explained, “I think rather than be personal you have to find universal triggers: everyone’s frightened of glass, everyone’s frightened of sharks, everyone loves butterflies.”

The butterfly motif appears both in printed editions as well as in installations where visitors are situated in a room of live butterflies. This motif helps the artist to explore the uncertainties at the core of human experience: love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal through unconventional media. The Love Poems series points to this exploration in its title, each of the prints attributed with a poetic or affectionate title like She Walks In Beauty or Longing.

The Love Poems series emanates happiness, vibrance and joy as a celebration of the circle of life, colour and love. Hirst uses contrasting colours in the butterfly wings against the solid coloured backdrops to create a set of eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing prints.