Taken from Damien Hirst’s Love Poems series from 2015, Longing is a signed print that shows an image of seven brightly coloured butterflies. Rendered with a vivid green backdrop, the butterflies are abstracted against the flatness of the print. Each butterfly is unique and is placed randomly across the picture plane, some even appearing upside down.
Hirst has deployed the butterfly motif throughout his artistic oeuvre, beginning with his 1991 In and Out of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ashtrays)installation that fixed the bodies of dead butterflies into monochrome gloss paint. The artist’s preoccupation with butterflies is rooted in the way that even when the insects are dead, they appear to be alive. Well known for his obsession with mortality, Hirst claims that his use of the butterfly motif is a symbol for the celebration of life rather than death.
The intuitive colour choice of Longing is based on aesthetic and non-rational demands that have remained in Hirst’s practice since his art training at Goldsmiths. This print depicts the butterflies in a variety of bright and contrasting colours such as blue, orange, purple, pink and yellow. In its playful colour choice, this print is eye-catching and has a universal appeal.