The first in a series of six prints titled the New Beginnings series by Damien Hirst, New Beginnings 1 is a striking block print from 2011. The rectangular composition shows a yellow and black butterfly with its wings outspread in the centre, set against a bright orange backdrop.
Hirst’s preoccupation with the butterfly is evident in his depiction of many different species of the insect across various prints and installation pieces throughout his career. The New Beginnings series appears almost identical to Hirst’s It’s A Beautiful Day series (2013) and strikes similarities with his Lessons in Love series (2018). The butterfly motif is used by Hirst as a ‘universal trigger’, and he renders each print with varying combinations of bright colours that exude a sense of joy and excitement.
Hirst contrasts the almost photographic depiction of the butterfly against solid, block colour to create a print that has an immediate and visceral visual impact. Tying together themes around morality, life, love, faith and aesthetics, Hirst has explained of the motif: “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.”