In 2008 Hirst created a series of 150 works made up of butterfly wings on painted canvases, each titled after an Old Testament psalm. For the artist's first solo exhibition in Sweden, McCabe Fine Art in Stockholm present the largest collection of 'Psalm' paintings ever to have been shown together.
Hirst began using butterflies in his work as early as 1989. Describing the insect as a 'universal trigger', he has explained: "Everyone’s frightened of glass, everyone’s frightened of sharks, everyone loves butterflies." The 'Psalms' form part of the ‘Kaleidoscope’ series, conceived by the artist in 2001 after he found a Victorian tea tray decorated with intricate patterns of butterfly wings. The works reference the spiritual symbolism of the butterfly, used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery to signify the resurrection. The perfect symmetry which characterises the 'Psalms' alludes to both the displays of light, colour and beauty as presented in Gothic stained glass windows, and the circular patterns of Buddhist mandalas. The paintings, which are rendered on uniformly-sized circular, square or diamond-shaped canvases, might variously be interpreted as explorations into the nature of beauty, religion, death and the fragility of life.