Hirst began work on the ‘Entomology Paintings’ in 2009. Each piece is made by placing hundreds of varieties of insect and beetle species into household gloss paint, in intricate geometric patterns. The series is reminiscent of Hirst’s iconic series of butterfly wing ‘Kaleidoscope’ pieces, which were originally inspired by Victorian tea trays. They also allude to Hirst's long time interest in the nineteenth century fascination with natural history and the irony involved in having to kill something in order to look at it.
As with the butterfly – one of Hirst's most enduring 'universal triggers', the insects appeal to the artist partly because they retain the appearance of life in death. However, whilst the iridescent beauty of the wings in the 'Kaleidoscope' series evoke stained glass windows, and are often assigned spiritual titles, the 'Entomology Paintings' are named after phases and characters in Dante Alighieri's tortuous vision of the afterlife, the 'Divine Comedy'. This work’s title derives from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ which mentions ‘Tityus’ as existing amongst the biblical and mythological giants that are frozen onto the rings outside of Hell's Circle of Treachery.