A Dream is a photogravure etching with lithographic overlay from Damien Hirst’s 2015 Love Poems series that shows five butterflies scattered across the composition, set against a sky blue backdrop. The butterflies are depicted in photographic detail and in bright saturated colours like green, pink, blue and yellow. Each butterfly varies in size and is unique in their patterned wings.
This series is highly reminiscent of Hirst’s 1991 In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays)installation that fixed the bodies of dead butterflies into monochrome gloss paint, surrounded by overflowing ashtrays. The choice of household gloss was intended to ‘look like an accident of paint with butterflies stuck on it,’ according to the artist. This effect is reflected in A Dream that contrasts the highly realistic images of butterflies against the solid pink backdrop.
Hirst uses the butterfly motif throughout his artistic oeuvre as a ‘universal trigger.’ 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.