The first in a series of 13 intaglio prints from 2008 by Damien Hirst titled the Memento series, Memento 1 shows an image of a butterfly with its wings outspread, set against a black backdrop. The butterfly is coloured with glowing shades of red and has a luminous quality that stands out against the dark background.
The subject matter of the Memento series is representative of Hirst’s most celebrated iconography: the skull, the diamond and the butterfly. The series comprises six prints of butterflies, six of skulls and one of a diamond skull, each image sharing the same composition and set against a dark backdrop. On this repetition in his work, Hirst has explained: “People are afraid of change, so you create a kind of belief for them through repetition. It’s like breathing. So I’ve always been drawn to series and pairs.”
Hirst’s Memento series shores up the duality that structures the core of human experience, depicting objects that represent the constant psychic tussle between life and death, beauty and decay, desire and fear, love and loss. Each print in the series shows a physical manifestation of this set of beliefs and ideas, depicted in meticulous detail so as to emphasise this visceral confrontation with the viewer that Hirst wishes to convey.